Journal Portraits

Mom and I both love taking pictures.

We're similar in a lot of ways, as you'd guess, but... how does the saying go? "...Different enough to keep things interesting." And one of the more interesting differences showed up this weekend, when Mom and Katie (my sister) came down to visit.

We had a wonderful time, ate quesadillas, steamed shirts, stuffed a cart full of groceries, sweated in the South Carolina heat, read by the pool, compared Brigitte Bardot to Catherine Deneuve, and stayed up till 2 in the morning drinking wine and telling stories.

And throughout most of this, I took pictures. That's what I do. I have an unreliable memory, I think, and find that having images to refer back to helps me a lot. Even as I'm writing this, I've got two of this weekend's pictures opened on my computer -- one of mine and one of Mom's.

Herein lies the difference. I'm more of what you would call, if I remember my wedding-photographer interviewing correctly, a "journalistic" style photographer. In my pocket I keep a little Canon Digital Elph (which I only mention by name because I love it and think everyone should get one) and whenever something interests me I take it out and snap a little something to remember it by.

Mom's camera stays in her purse until Picture Time, which involves lining everyone up in various permutations, all smiling, and snapping the shutter until you get a good one where nobody blinked. This would make her a "portrait" photographer.

(She also peers through the little viewfinder window, no matter how many times I tell her she can hold the camera away from her face and frame the image in the digital display, but I think this is more a generational distinction than a personal one.)

Mom's got Photoshop skills, too, and she's not afraid to use 'em. Ever since a couple years back when she got her computer, every picture of me has depicted a strapping young lad with perfect teeth and no blemishes. I appreciate this greatly.

My skills extend only to adjusting brightness and contrast, and maybe I'll apply a filter if you catch me on a good day.

So here's the pics from this weekend. It's pretty apparent whose is whose, and, like the saying says, I enjoy the differences between the two.

Mom's is from the Columbia Airport, a beautiful facility that needs no photoshop touch-up -- not even a Gaussian Blur -- and the shutter was snapped by a studious-looking young soldier in camouflage uniform, waiting for a ride to Fort Jackson.

I'm clutching the Diet Coke from our lunch and a handful of pamphlets by the local tourism board. Hey, *I'd* like to know about stuff to do around here, too. Katie and Mom look perfect, naturally, holding nothing and smiling beautifully.

I like my picture because we're all three in there too, though you have to know the story behind it. Mom is there kneeling on the kitchen floor, using the steamer on some new shirts she got me at Ross. She always likes for clothes to look nice and new. Out the window, if you could see there, would be Katie, spritzed with bronzing oil and napping on the poolside. On the left, again outside the frame, Lope reads her book under the shade from the patio umbrella. And then there's me, of course, behind the lens.

I remember that afternoon perfectly now, even though the picture itself isn't perfect -- the refrigerator takes up the left quarter, the dishtowel on the oven door isn't lying flat, the tomatoes we got at the roadside stand are scattered on the counter, and our leftovers from the night before are still covered in tinfoil on the counter. In my mind, it's perfect. And the picture is the key to that memory.

Of course, my fondness for the second image could be for another reason too: in the kitchen shot, we had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. In the airport shot, I'm dropping them off to go back home.


Anonymous said...

Way to go, Col! That was a great way for me to remember the trip, too. And the beginning is always so much brighter than the end. I miss you already.

I'm sure you're feeling very chipper tonight, with the Lope home again. Have a good tomorrow.

Love and hugs

Anonymous said...

just got around to reading this...wow I'm ridiculously busy at work. I ALREADY need another vacation! Anyhow, you painted a very vivid image for me, and I distinctly remember that blissful nap by the pool on that unpredictably cloudy afternoon. I had a wonderful time visiting you and look forward to hanging out, drinking wine and telling stories again soon. Thank you for having us at the Pottery Barn-esque humble abode you now call home :)

Anonymous said...

I check in on your blog every once in a while and very much enjoy the way you see life and most especially your ability to tell us about it in an interesting way.
Journal Portraits is an especially wonderful entry. Keep up the good work.