Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why I Couldn't Decide

Warning:  This post has absolutely NO photos, but is worth reading!  :)


I had decided quite a while back that I wanted to do a photo project, but I KNEW I couldn't keep up with a 365.  There are certain points of the year when a teacher is busy, and certain times of the year when musicians tend to have a lot of business.  When you put the two together - there are times when I meet myself coming and going!  Add to that occasional health issues which cause massive amounts of fatigue, and I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up.  So the decision was made to do a picture a week project instead.

As I searched for a project theme, I was constantly drawn to the 365 projects.  Then, I came across a blog talking about an interesting set of photos....  It bowled me over!  I was mesmerized!  I couldn't stop reading and then looking!

The blog post that took me there (and brought tears to my eyes):   Mental Floss Blog - A Polaroid a Day

The site/project:  Some Photographs of That Day

For those of you who don't want to follow the rabbit trail, I will attempt a short summary:


The photographer, Jamie Livingston, began taking Polaroid pictures while in a film class.  At some point, he realized he had been taking about a photo each day for the past 30 days and decided he was going to continue the trend.

Sometimes the photos are beautiful!  There's a gorgeous shot of cherry blossoms in the spring of the 80's.  Sometimes the shots are complete duds - there are a few shots that are nothing but blur.  This grabbed me because I would have a problem with that if it were my project, but not him.  That was his shot for the day and if it didn't turn out, oh well, he would take one tomorrow.

Mostly, the photos are about his every day life.  A shot of his friend, a picture of his bowl of spaghetti-ohs, a shot of his toothbrush with a line of toothpaste on it, new shoes, a staircase, friends buried in the sand at the beach....

That's when I began to remember - the reason I began to take photos in the first place and the reason I loved taking pictures wasn't because I was eager to get a beautiful, perfect photo, but because I wanted to document my life and the lives of my children and of those around me.

As we get into the middle of 1997, there are photos that tell you all is not well.  It is obvious that Jamie is sick - one photo shows a line of stitches down his skull.  As I go on through seeing him with no hair, going on vacations, continuing with everyday life, I am struck when I arrive at the photo of his child as she is learning to crawl.  It strikes me partly because I know what is coming.

We go on to see lot of photos in the hospital and photos of pills mixed in among the every day occurrences.  One even has an arrow pointing to a single pill that has been circled - beside it reads "$26.89".  Talk about being able to relate!! 

I was also struck by the photo dated 8-31-97 which has the newspaper headline "DIANA IS DEAD".  Sadly, I remember that day.

As we get into October, there is a picture of an ambulance.  The remaining 5 photos are taken in a hospital room where you see Jamie surrounded by family and friends....

Some time after his death, his friends organized his photos and put together a public exhibit of the polariods.  They weren't necessarily meant to be viewed online, but they are there and have drawn some attention.


These photos have inspired me yet, at the same time, haunted me.  I can't get them out of my head.  I feel almost as if I know this person even though we've never met and never will.  If the purpose of photography is to speak to people, then these photos have succeeded!  Even if they are of mundane subjects, even if they aren't always exhibit quality, even if they are occasionally silly, they have spoken.  When looked at as a collection, these photos tell the story of one man's adult life!

What kind of legacy am I leaving behind??

1 comment:

Jen said...

Tiffany I read your blog then viewed the montage for myself. Its not every day I am brought to tears by photos but today was the day.
One persons reality makes me feel a bit like a voyeur, but I am sure those people were making a simple statement, that life is made up of so many every day events and its ours for the taking.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to make me think of my life and its importance to me and those around me.
Regards, Jen