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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The pictures of us.

I was telling my daughter just last month how I hardly ever see her in pictures she sends me since she is busy with all kinds of tasks, especially capturing the fleeting moments of childhood.
And there is the story we leave behind, not of ourselves, but of those we love, those we hold dear to our hearts.

On our only vacation in France, in a moment of sheer frustration on some thing or other, I handed my husband the phone camera I had, and asked him to take my picture,  He hesitated, making some excuse I can't recall. What I recall is how that refusal, at that particular moment, in a particular setting where I wanted to be memorialized and wasn't, that refusal appeared so callous and harsh at that moment.

I saw it as a betrayal of sorts.
A denial of something that touched deeply, but it was hard to name.
A negligence on his part that was casual and inconsequential, but has stayed as a dark spot, an incomprehensible stain I still can't figure it. I have to add that he did take a picture of me by that creek and mill that had been painted by Van Gogh.

What is about our expectations that leaves us stunned when deep beliefs are contradicted by one statement?
I can name a whole lot of moments when he took pictures of me, and I didn't want to be in any of them.

I can now peruse pictures I took of my children, and can tell you about that moment and the moment before and after, and the moods each was in. I didn't know then what I know now: that pictures carry a whole lot of meaning that is hardly appreciated at the moment, but immensely treasured when that person is gone.

22 comments:

L. D. said...

I find myself rejecting the idea of sharing my image. When I see my father and mother in the mirror and shrug and wish that I was young again. My wife refuses a photo to be taken of her and yet when a grandchild is in her lap the camera can be used to remember the great experience. I enjoyed reading your words and your response to the happenings of your life. Thanks for sharing. You made me think.

Elephant's Child said...

Such an evocative post.
I have virtually no photos of my family. And none at all of preceding generations. Which makes my heart ache.

Rian said...

It's very true that pictures carry a lot of meaning (to some of us). When I was taking pics of my kids and DH while lighting his birthday candles this past week, they all complained. No one or at least 'in our family' seems to like their pictures taken. And I'm probably the worse - but since I take the pics, I have an excuse. However, looking back, you can't tell I was even there most of the time.

And yes, vacation pics should show the vacationers in them... just shots of scenes which are lovely are not the same. And I do understand how you must feel... although I doubt if you should attach anything meaningful to it.

yaya said...

My father loved to take photos and even had his own dark room where the black and white moments of life were captured. He took the silent movies we all laugh about and don't even get me started about the slides! Maybe that's where I get my love of photography. I'm not crazy about pics of myself probably because I think I look fat in all of them but I finally quit feeling that way and decided I didn't want my kids to one day realize, after I'm gone, that there aren't any pics of me. Almost like I'm saying I didn't have a life or I didn't matter. I think it's important to put importance to our lives and capturing moments in time that can never happen again is like magic. Maybe the Native Americans had it right after all...our souls are captured in the film. I think that's what makes the photo special and I'll keep taking them so I can feel that spirit whenever I look at them.

Rubye Jack said...

Hi Rosaria,

I used to love pictures when I was younger but something has happened to where I never give them much meaning any longer. Perhaps it's my withdrawal from the world. :)

About your husband not taking the picture of you, I was watching a movie last night and a couple was having a bad argument, then got silent and the woman reached over to caress her husband's face as apology. But, he yelled nastily at her to "get your filthy hands off of me." She looked at him astounded and he had a moment of realization of how nasty he had just been and started laughing at himself and then they both were laughing together. It seemed to me that he realized how terribly awful he had sounded and had to laugh at himself because of how serious he'd been. What I took away from that is that so often we simply react without thought and when we look at our behavior our self doesn't even know where the behavior came from. Humans can be quite thoughtless at times but I think most of the time we don't mean to hurt. We just are lost in some other moment and place than the present.

I hope you are well and happy.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria - I was a great photographer - and still have them .. but not in digital format - who knows friends have some good ones of me - but I don't! But sad - sometimes I'd like to have some photos of me (good or bad) - but as you say no-one helps at that stage ...

Interesting thoughts though ... cheers Hilary

the walking man said...

I, like Elephants Child have very very few pictures of my antecedents and even less of my children that are current, and were it not for the digital age I would have none of my grandchildren. But I have enough in my head to sustain me until I am no more then the pictures only matter to them who do not have them either.

I don't know why the old man could not accommodate you in your desire to have one picture of you in one place at one moment in time Rosaria. Even I, a generally grumpy old man, would ask the camera's owner which button to push and try to keep my thumb off the lens.

Helen said...

Long days during Winter are the days I pull out a huge box of photos dating back to the 1920's ~~ precious beyond words and life-affirming to remember loved ones. I keep my online photos, thousand ++, on an extra hard drive. You may give Ken a tiny 'pinch' from me!! Smiles.

ellen abbott said...

not too many pictures of me as I was the picture taker, still am.

Hilary said...

I am rarely in front of the camera. And I have also been turned down when on one occasion I asked to be photographed. And also like you, I have been snapped by that same person far too many times when I didn't want to be. Both feel like betrayals.. but especially the latter, for me.

Tom Sightings said...

So true that ... "pictures carry a whole lot of meaning that is hardly appreciated at the moment, but immensely treasured when that person is gone."

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I can appreciate this. I'm the photo taker in our family. A few years ago up in British Columbia I asked my husband to take a photo of me while I was up on a ledge. He was such a jerk about it and I didn't understand why. He started climbing up to where I was and mumbling and I was standing there going "No, I want you to take a photo of me."

He thought I wanted him to see the view from where I was. Hadn't heard me. Wasn't listening to me, no doubt. I understand your pain. With our recent wedding activities, I have only one photo in the hundreds I took where I am present. That was my brother-in-law who grabbed my camera and pushed me into the frame. I thank him for that one photo.

troutbirder said...

Indeed. I treasure every one of my eldest son who fell to the effect of bi-polar...

Maggie May said...

Yes...... a strange betrayal. Some people are just dead awkward!
Maggie x

kj said...

this is beautifully stated and i'm sad reading it because it must be universal. sometimes those photos even create new memories.

and the larger picture: even tiny regrets are still regrets.

love
kj

rosaria williams said...

Thanks everyone.

rosaria williams said...

Thanks everyone.

rosaria williams said...

Ruby, I have lost you. How are you?

rosaria williams said...

Ruby, I have lost you. How are you?

Barbara Torris said...

When my daughter was married we did not have my daughter-in-law in any of the pictures...what were we thinking? I truly do regret that. Maybe your husband feels the same way. Fortunately, the past does not exist and there are lots of pictures to be take yet in your life...as Nike says, Just Do It! :)

b+

Brian Miller said...

i think sometimes we think others should think and feel the same as us about the moment and our shock comes in that they dont...i took over 250 pictures in nepal...only one is of me...ha. i felt i wanted to tell their story, not my own.

when it comes to our kids, we were much more loyal in taking pictures when they were younger...as if we were going to detail every moment. we have a big box of them. i guess we moved to digital though, and many are lost on the phones that no longer work.

Sally Wessely said...

You are so right. We have so many photos of the ones we love, but we are missing in their midst because we are the photographer. My children and grandchildren become annoyed because I take too many photos of them. I have one daughter who refuses to let me take her photo these days. I get upset with her about that. I think we want to capture the moments and know the value of these images once a loved one in no longer with us, or when the children grow and change.

My husband is terrible at photography! I really regret whenever he takes a photo that I request. If my head is in the photo, he still gets it all wrong it seems.

I've been away from blogging way too long. How are you?