Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Post with No Picture

I am a strong advocator for capturing memories, of course. And pictures certainly play a vital role in preserving them, because well, our memories oftentimes fail us. I have found several super cool people that I follow now on instagram and love their barrage of snapshots from their days. One of my favs is Denise Bovee who captures her world (sometimes 10+ pics a day) so, so beautifully... all with an iPhone! I never get tired of her flow of images, because #1 she has such an eye for beauty and composition in the everyday and #2 her two little girls have the cutest wildly curly hair I've ever encountered and they populate 99% of her photos. Just yesterday she posted in a caption for an image taken on her back porch at the end of the day,

"I document a lot through photos..I'm super thankful for photography because I have the worst memory of all time.. when I look at pics it helps me remember. I remember details about a day I would've otherwise forgotten. I also forget how blessed I am ...but these little pics help me remember."

Pictures help us remember, the broken and the beautiful, the story of our lives. But while the picture may be beautifully executed, with light to die for and worth a thousand words it is the memory that is the true treasure.

And sometimes, yes sometimes a camera just doesn't fit in the moment. I have a few images burned within my mind of pictures I never took. Back in February I gazed towards the horizon from the back porch of a island house as a pink light lingered in the sky just past sunset. I watched as a blanket of rain moved across the horizon like a curtain being drawn on the day and on a particularly hard season in my life. My camera was by my side, but I didn't touch it. On purpose.

I have been doing this little cheesy thing called Throwback Thursday for a few weeks now in an effort to unearth images I have captured over the past year that have gotten buried on my hard drive beneath piles of more resent pictures. My last throwback post went back to just five months ago when I visited a precious family with a brand spankin' new baby girl in South Tampa. And today, on this Throwback Thursday, I am looking back at another family I encountered on that very same day in December and am remembering another one of those un-taken pictures that left a memory burned within me.

Just before the New Year I stood in the glow of hospital lights in Tampa and peered through the half opened door into a room with a young healthy looking man in a bed, his wife by his side flipping through a magazine, a yellow "chemotherapy in progress" sign hung on the door. Phil and Porter and their young family were at the very beginning of a journey of unknown length. They had just discovered a cancerous, stage 4 Neuroendocrine Pancreatic Tumor in the body of the 35 year old young husband and father. (I wrote a bit about this in my last post of 2011 here.) The image of the courageous family still lingers in my mind. A camera was by my side, but I didn't touch it. And there was something about simply taking it all in with my full being without the worry of finding the best combination of ISO, shutter speed and fstop for the hospital lighting that let the memory rest upon my heart in a different way.

That was just five months ago.

Now another image lingers in my mind. Porter, a young widow of just hours, sat at the far end of living room bathed in the dim golden glow of the lamp light that lingered at the late hour. Her face in her hands, her eyes pressed tightly together facing a hospice hospital bed just steps away, empty. My best friend (whose husband was Phil's bestfriend), who I had just driven from Tampa to Sebring and back again heading straight to Phil and Porter's house in the same evening, was by her side, her hand on her knee to comfort while her voice trembled. Beside me on the fridge was a collection of happy pictures; friends and family, a bearded healthy Phil, a collection of snapshots of a grinning 4 year old, a newspaper clipping of a wedding announcement from 6 years ago with a picture of a beaming young bride, a letter from their church dated just 10 months ago congratulating them on the newest addition to their family, Andrew Cusmano. A baby monitor with an image of a boy finally in slumber after a long night sat on the kitchen table. Family and friend's huddled in the kitchen around a table of bowls and plates of half eaten food. A chatter hums and means to fill the space where thoughts run sharp and deep. It was the surface of things with a beast beneath. This is my memory from late on May 25, 2012. No camera was on hand. No picture was taken. But the image of that moment will be forever remembered.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted." - Psalms 34:18

He was certainly near during this time. I spent the next five days with my friend and her husband as they grieved and ventured through the process of memorializing their dear friend and supporting his family. We moved through the world like oil in water, in it but not of it. Removed. People in the middle of the celebration of engagements and weddings and births and baseball games and all that comes along with young family life came in from all over the world. Images of young men, fit, trim and full of life gathered around reminiscing about their own young friend sit uneasy in my mind. And throughout the long weekend there is a whole collection of pictures never taken.

Late in the afternoon on Tuesday, after the funeral and the burial and as people began to leave the reception held at a friends house in South Tampa a storm blew in and rain pushed everyone onto the porches. But Sam, Phil and Porter's four year old son, decided he would rather play in the rain and he and his friend broke loose. Splashing through mud puddles, rolling around on the drenched grass and basking in the wet gloriousness in a way little boys seem to do best. Maybe there was a part of all of us that wanted to join them. I couldn't help it anymore and I pulled out my phone to capture some pictures of the moment. Slowly I began to see others with their cameras and camera phones, snapping pictures and capturing videos. It was as if the spell was broken. It was okay to remember again.

There is something in the ritual of taking the time to remember, to cherish, to keep alive these un-taken pictures that is almost dearer than any image in hand. And it is through this process, the memorializing (the thing you don't do when you know you have the image on your wall) that these very real images in your mind become privately treasured in a deep and personal way.

I am certainly not suggesting putting your camera down completely. I am an advocate of capturing memories, remember. I am merely saying that there is a richness in the habit of being truly open to what is around us, breathing in the moment and cherishing the memory, the heartbreaking and the beautiful, fully and completely. Treasured.

I will still continue to document my life and others through photography. And I will still continue to melt over Denise Bovee's instagram feed each day. But there will also still be that collection of my own un-taken pictures, from those moments when the camera just didn't fit within the space, that I will treasure in my heart for a long time to come.

The fingerprints of Phil's life and the memories he left behind are far reaching and deeply felt. You can read a little more about his life as well as the details of the memorial trust fund set up for his two boys, Sam (4) and Andrew (10 months) by clicking here.

4 comments:

Aunt Cathy June 1, 2012 at 4:39 AM  

Beautiful.

Aunt Cathy June 1, 2012 at 4:40 AM  

Beautiful.

sarah beth June 6, 2012 at 8:22 PM  

so moving, caroline. beautifully written.

Anonymous November 17, 2012 at 6:59 AM  

Very touching, I'm in tears.

About Caroline

I decided my destiny was to be an artist at age five when I won an honorable mention in a art competition in kindergarten. Ever since then I have been following a dream that has manifested itself in a variety of rewarding and delightful ways. I have practiced in the field of graphic design for over 8 years and recently acquired my Masters in Graphic Design at NC State University in Raleigh, NC (check out my design portfolio by clicking here if you like). But a passion that has stuck with me ever since I got my hands on my first Nikon camera in my undergraduate art education at Florida State University is photography. The instruction I received there was but a seed in what would develop over the next years of my life. Recently I have begun photographing people in their celebrations of life and could not feel any more blessed to be a part of capturing those memories.

About This Blog

A great american writer once wrote, "If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world, and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan my day." EB White penned the thoughts of my own heart. One part of me is a graphic designer working to challenge the world, seeking out problems and striving to create avenues for change. The other part is seeking out the beauties of the world and working to capture them in our memories forever through photography. This is what you will find here. Me enjoying the world. I have been truly fortunate to photograph such incredible people at truly beautiful moments in life. I can only hope that the images I've collected will forever keep alive those thoughts and emotions that swelled in their hearts and minds that day.

If you are interested in having me capture your life moments you can contact me by clicking here.

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