This is one of those photos where the artist voice inside me screams, “You can’t use this pic!” But the deeper and more spiritual voice in me runs wild! Nothing about this photo I like in the physical sense. In fact, if it weren’t for the story behind this photo, it would have never seen the light of day. But it’s only by strange coincidence that the moral of this story plays itself out as it does, because this photo is all about something simple, something real. A memory.
As I sat eating my lunch today, I watched this gentleman set up his camera on a tripod. I knew exactly what was going on. He waited patiently for the woman he was with to arrive with the rest of the food. Once she did, she set up a nice arrangement while he readied the camera. Then, with the push of a button he jumped into his chair and the timer went off on a portrait of a beautiful lunch consisting of good old fashioned American fried foods.
I have to admit, my first reaction was with a chuckle, “Gotta love the Asian culture. Taking pictures of anything and everything.” But then I sat there for a moment. Watching them. How they took bite after bite as if it was the greatest meal they ever had. Every now and then, peaking up at the other with a smile, and handing off a large vanilla milkshake to the other. I was taken back by this moment. Here I am poking fun at a couple obviously in love and on vacation, snapping posed portraits of themselves with their lunch. Yet, throughout this year so far, I have taken my camera everywhere and most likely have been given a few chuckles under the breath from others as they watched me take pictures of elevator buttons, and upside down chairs, and bottle caps, and so on.
So why don’t we document our lives more often? Of course we have our memories that live forever in our mind and in our heart. But we can only remember them in a certain way. In a way how our mind interprets how they occurred, which may not always be the exact same way we experienced them. I realized today that he and I were the same. Documenting our lives, but for different reasons. And by some strange coincidence, we came together for a single split second of a shutter today.
Without dragging the mood of this subject down too much, maybe we shouldn’t take life for granted as much as we do. For all we know, this may be the last meal this couple ever shares together, for whatever the reason. God forbid it be an unfortunate one. But if that were the case, then at least that memory would be preserved in a physical sense for the other to always have. Even if it was over a plate of onion rings and hot dogs. For it may not seem like a lot today, when you would look back on a memory like this years down the road, it would only bring joy to your heart.
We never know when our last memory with someone will be just that, a last memory. Some of us are only lucky enough to share a last memory with someone and have it be so amazing. For me, I lost my Uncle about a year and a half ago unexpectedly. My last memory of him was at a party at my home about a year before that. As we were saying our goodbyes he went into one of his famous stories, and had myself and my girlfriend in tears of laughter. And while the rest of the family yelled to him from the car to hurry it up, with a grunt and a groan he yelled back down the driveway and told them to hang on while he finished sharing his tale. It just so happened to be the first time she had met him, and would be the last. For myself, I wouldn’t realize the importance of that day until I would say my final goodbye almost a year later. I thank God countless times for allowing me to have that final memory be one of such joy and laughter. Would I give anything to have a photograph from that day? Of course. Heck, even a video of that final conversation.
But my point is that we must remember everything around us is just a moment in life. At any given time, it could be our last to share with someone we love, someone we admire, or someone we just met. While the memories you have will always live on, sometimes having that extra memory of something to physically hold in your hand makes all the more difference.
So the next time someone grabs your grumpy butt and says “Let’s take a picture!” Do it. No matter how awful your hair looks. No matter if your cheeks look chubby when you squint. Or no matter if the couple across the room snickers under their breath while you set up a camera and take a portrait of you and the love of your life over an overpriced meal you are about to enjoy on your vacation together.
In the end, one of you, but hopefully both, and more important others you share it with, will have it to cherish and smile over forever!
Thank you for letting me get deep and spiritual on you for a moment in what turned out to be WAY more than I probably should’ve written on a blog that is supposed to be about photos! =)
Dig deep, and you shall be rewarded.