Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why is it that...

... you hold up so well under stress, you deal with sadness, you manage to suppress your emotions and swallow your tears, but at the merest hint of sympathy and kindness the dam breaks?

... dentists try to carry on a conversation with you, when you are lying there with your jaw propped open, a latex sheet stretched across the chasm and the drill bit is going full speed? When try as you might, you cannot bring the necessary parts of your mouth together to reply, to agree or disagree?

... when you have typed the wrong word but the correct word is almost exactly the same as the wrong word but only that the last two letters are different, your fingers backspace over the entire wrong word and retype almost exactly the same letters again? Why are you not satisfied with only fixing the last two letters?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Walk away from me

In the throes of a heated argument, when the object of your ire starts to walk away from you, the words easily spring to your lips, "Don't you dare walk away from me!" When two people are engaged with each other, the need to see the other's countenance, gauge their expressions, be able to read their minds, look for clues as to their feelings or their state of mind is present and real.

Add a camera to the mix and the dynamic undergoes a dramatic shift. There is something incredibly romantic about people walking away from the camera. The instrument lets you see things your eyes cannot. It freezes, for all eternity, the space between the foot and the ground, the turn of the head, the flick of the hair, the hunch of the shoulder, the carefree swinging of the arm. Aspects of a person you don't - or cannot - notice because the actions before and the actions after blend together with that one moment and the parts are lost in the whole.

The first time I felt compelled to capture someone walking away was years ago, when my in-laws first came to visit us here. My husband and my father-in-law were deep in some conversation and they broke off from the rest of us and headed down the path toward the White House.

It's not a great photograph clarity-wise or composition-wise, but I cherish it for the intangible, perhaps for the glimpse it offers into the future, perhaps for the intimation of camaraderie between the generations.

Then a few weeks ago, during our trip to the Tidal Basin, Altoid took this photo of myself and my son. Alty seemed to be busy with the cherry blossoms and the trees and the water, so my son and I walked on a little ahead of her, not wanting to cramp her style. A few minutes later she called out to us and showed us this. I'd found another fan of the 'subject-walking-away-from-the-camera' shot!

Image credit: Altoid

Needless to say, I love this picture and will cherish it for a long, long time, even (or especially?) when I'm well into my eighties, doddering along with a walking stick, wondering just where all the time went.

And then still later, when I went to India to visit family a couple of weeks ago, my brother showed me pictures he'd taken of his friend's wedding on a beach in Goa. The images and the setting and the composition, they were all awesome. And even more so the bride and groom. I fell in love with the pictures, with the three he had remaining after he'd given away the rest. And then I saw the fourth. I haven't stopped wanting to look at it.

Image credit: Sukku, my brother

Can you blame me?

The camera imparts its longing for a peek into the other side of the image. There's romance, there's mystery, there's a gentleness in the way the hands come together to hold one another (and to save the clothes from the water!), a determination and a promise in the way the feet are poised to march into the future, together.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The pursuit of happiness (and an unconventional tour of Washington) by Maira Kalman

Image credit: Maira Kalman for the NYT

Kalman takes you on a whirlwind tour of Washington. Hold on to your hats and enjoy this thoroughly delightful ride!

Friday, April 03, 2009


I'm going to be offline for a bit and if I get lucky, will have more than spotty access to the internet. Looking forward to catching up when I get back. In the meantime, feel free to dig into the archives!