Monday, January 21, 2008

The Photographs Not Taken

Herman and Amy © Lenore Stein
By now you've probably seen many posts about The Photographs Not Taken. Will Steacy has collected essays from an amazing array of photographers about the time they couldn't or didn't take the photograph. Will asked me participate and I was obliged.

My parents are both deceased. I have many objects and papers of theirs that I keep around the house to help me remember moments and stay connected to who they were. Of all the things I have, photographs of my parents mean the most to me. When I take the time to look through the old albums I see many photos of me and my dad, but precious few of my mom. She was an amateur photographer and was always behind the lens.

I began to think about those pictures and the life I am creating now with my husband, John, who is probably the most camera shy person on earth. I don't know what he did in a past life that cast his fate to be married to a photographer, but here we are are. The wife that takes pictures and the husband that doesn't want his picture taken. When I consider all the photos of John that haven't been taken it seems like a threat to the assurance of our common memory.

I know that photographs are ultimately only evidence of moments real and fabricated and that true memory is more powerful than any snapshot. But, photographs are stimulant. They are trigger and catalyst to draw out our memories. The thought of not preserving that connection to our shared life leaves me with a profound sense of loss.
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