I think that candid photographs can show you stuff you never would have noticed and catch moments of life that you may not have thought warranted a second glance. Posed portraits serve a purpose and have their own place and tell their own stories, but it’s the candid photos that can tell a story you didn’t even know was a story.
I feel there are layers and depths to photographs that aren’t necessarily found in digital images. Holding a photo by the edges, requires you to slow down and look and really focus on what you’re holding because if you touch the surface of the photo your dad will get annoyed at you and tell you to get your fingers off, because they will somehow ruin it.
And I get it. Photographs required a great deal of commitment. Buy the film, load the camera, take the photo, finish the roll, take them to be processed and printed, and then look through them hoping that at least some of them turned out. You only had one chance to get it right. You didn’t delete the ones that showed your red eyes, or double chin or blurry outlines. You kept them. For some reason, like throwing them out would invoke a curse of some sort. The symbolism was just too strong. So, you had to keep them. All in a shoe box, or in paper envelopes, or, as in my case now, photo albums that smell faintly of smoke and age and home.
I know I’ve already shared the profile photo of my dad barbecuing on a hibachi in the rain while holding an umbrella. Well, I recently found a second photo, the straight on view. These photos tell the story of “the damp hamburger buns and the fire that never lit”, which I didn’t even know was a story. Although, I suppose it really isn’t a story so much as a chapter in the epic book of Berman. An interesting read, subject to the interpretation of the reader.
Anyway, it’s been 30 years (and a day) that my dad has been gone. And although I don’t feel that he finished his roll of film, I love the stories that these photos tell.
One thought on “BBQ”
Thank you for sharing this, my lovely friend. Your perspective is always so appreciated. Truly amazing how much the nature of photography has changed over the years: while it’s incredibly easy for anyone to take a really great picture under all kinds of lighting conditions and to use filters and software to clean up anything, photography really was such a labour of love in the film roll days, when careful thought had to go into every snap since you only had so many and each one cost money and time. Plus not knowing the end result for days or weeks or longer and the risk of a roll being spoiled or lost. And because there were way less pictures, the ones we DID get were that much more special, warts and all (metaphorical warts…usually).