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.