A friend of mine asked me yesterday “what is your favorite photo you have ever taken”. When I couldn’t answer that question, he asked me about my favorite series of photos. That was an easier question but one I still really couldn’t answer. In a way, both are almost impossible questions to answer, much like the question I get once in a while “what is your favorite place geographically”. I like different locations for different reasons, and some I prefer over others, but not one single place that says, come here forever and you will be happy. That is like trying to pick one photo or one series out of a decade of images.
One photo may speak a 1,000 words as the saying goes, but it doesn’t tell an extensive story. You can take a single image and tell a story, but if you see a sequence or completed album often it can tell a completely different story all together, perhaps one the photographer is specifically trying to portray. Where one photo is a sliver in history, at least a sequence of photos gives you a time line to look at.
Some musicians do not release singles but prefer only to release an entire album, because the album tells a story. Pink Floyd was great at this, but Garth Brooks has said many times that he has refused to sell singles on iTunes because he compiles an album to be just that, a complete work that tells a story that would be incomplete when you listen to one single song, or the songs out-of-order.
Photography, to me, is much like the music example above. Photographers will often take a series of photos to tell a story, a sequence of history to show how he or she sees an event, people, or places that the photographer was involved with at some level, even if that was just to observe.
What is the Story of the Bald Eagle
So, what does this image tell us, what story does it tell. It is an American icon, a Bald Eagle. Do you think of majestic places, cold Alaska wilderness, some government endangered species list or something green like that?
By itself, it is a nice shot of a beautiful bird, but it doesn’t tell a story like it would if you looked at the sequence of photographs taken before and after the bald eagle image. To see the entire shoot, go to the bald eagle gallery and see how he fits into the story of the image above, but, once you open the gallery, don’t just go, oh yeah, figures, click on the slideshow if you are so inclined (upper right), and watch the story in order (it is a rare one this year) in its entity as it was written by the artist.
What Conclusions Do We Make with People
If you made it this far you may be wondering what’s the point. Who cares anyway besides the photographer or musician… well… I think this bleeds over into our daily lives. How often do we look at a piece of the story and come to some conclusion? How often do we look at a person not in our own circle and make some conclusion based on our one single snap shot of their lives? How about those within our circle?
I think in our culture of today’s sound bite mentality we no longer have the ability to absorb and understand the whole story. We don’t have the time, nor do we care, we just come to some conclusion, right or wrong, and move on. This is the same with friends, co-workers, acquaintances, or just those passing by on the street. We are so busy that we only have time to take a snap shot of the things that pass through our life and then forget about it and move on.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine this morning and I finally told him to just come to a conclusion and move on and he said “I don’t operate like that”. It made me think about how often we do this, just for the sake of time. It isn’t always important to know the entire story (sometimes knowing all is quite bad once we get all the facts), but taking the time to at least look at the gallery the artist put together might bring us to another conclusion.
This post could go in a thousand directions from here, but it was really a segway to my next post, Alabama Rural Ministries Make a Difference Day // Photos, and making this the intro to that post all on one page would be incredibly hard on the eyes. But I will leave you with this series of questions… do we look at something from the outside and make conclusions without knowing the entire story? Do we judge people in this fashion? Do we conclude the worth of someone based on these snapshots?
John 4:7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Stay tuned for part 2….