Thanks to cell phones and other mobile devices most all of us are capturing special moments, snapshots, to record events. I use them as well, but prefer my digital camera and my great lens to capture something that tells a story all by itself.
I cannot recall when I got my first camera and began snapping photos. I am certain it goes back to the days of being a Brownie or Girl Scout, but when I worked as a “stringer” for a local newspaper, I began to look through the camera lens differently. I knew I could snap a picture, but could I take a photo that told (or helped tell) a story? It was then that I started to look through my camera lens differently and that quest has remained to the present.
Our photos on whatever device we use catch moments in time because those moments are special to us and because we want to remember. I am not sure as I look at some of these in my own albums if they really help me recall or give me only a glimpse that cannot really fully bring back the memory.
The truth is that I have discovered the most extraordinary “snapshots” take place on seemingly very ordinary days and most of them were never shot through the lens of a camera. These “snapshots” are recalled vividly and were often captured by the lens in my mind and heart when there was no camera in my hand. These seem to be recorded indelibly and are not one or two dimensional, but truly full of meaning and emotion.
One of those “snapshots” is of my dad when I was a child as I watched him walk through a field on the farm where I grew up. I can see him clearly walk along with his straw hat and fiddle seeder. I have captured his pace and speed as well and when that “photo” comes to mind, it never fails to warm my heart because it gives me a special glimpse of him. Even if a camera had been in my hand, it could not have captured what I see through the lens within me.
There was also another picture of my dad slowly walking through the house gently patting my newborn son’s back when he was struggling with colic. My dad would be barely moving his feet and yet it seemed to soothe our son in ways I could not. It was a dear picture to me since my son and I were then living with my parents while my husband was overseas on active duty. My dad never appeared to tire of doing this for an hour at a time to soothe his precious grandson. How could a camera lens capture the emotion connected with this?
Another such “snapshot” causes relief and joy to bubble up within me as no photograph can. It is one of my 24-year-old U.S. Marine Captain walking off a plane at 6AM on an Easter Sunday morning after being separated by a war half a world away for 14 months. I see his familiar walk, his deep tan, and how thin he is, but the lens within captures something beyond that and even 48 years later brings a similar set of feelings to my heart.
Our memories tend to be recorded almost like a kaleidoscope and sorted randomly, sometimes inaccurately. I think that is why we use our cameras so often.
I now routinely carry some sort of camera with me most every day, but as I go through a typical day when there is no special event to capture I now pause to glimpse through the lens within. In those moments, I see things differently, better, and perhaps more clearly. Those are the very best “snapshots” and they are mine alone.