02 July 2005

I have character quirks

My partner's mom recently complimented my photography. But, she seems to think I am wonderful in many ways. This sort of thing makes me suspicous of her capacity to judge. In screenwriter's terms this would be labeled as one of my "character quirks." If I were a screenplay character, I - as writer - would have to write an index card about myself that read, "IS HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS OF PEOPLE WHO LIKE or LOVE HIM." I would tack it to my project wall with all the other index cards and work the quirks into the details of my character's life. I am not fictional. My quirks go where I go, even when I ask them to wait in the car.

She won't be embarassed if I say so, but my mother-in-law is not, herself, a master photographer. I only accepted her photo praise after she mentioned that one of her co-workers also thought the photos were good. See how I am? But she is a prolific photographer and that's admirable. Her composition and adherance to the Rule-of-Thirds is subpar. She is not bothered by this and bravely snaps on.

I have, in my posession, a stack of photos of dirt and bricks that she captured when her back yard and patio was being redone. Her photos tell a story, and when they fail individually, it helps to remember that they are often shot in a series. I would not call her a photojournalist, per se, but she takes series of photos that relay occurances, events, and information. Her photos are visual aids for a story she intends to tell...to many people...at a later date. Her photos are like Post-Its. They will help her remember various details about what has transpired -- but it is in the telling that the context of her photos will take form.

Today she asked me where the pictures of my Paris apartment were. It never once occurred to me to photograph that place. Sometimes, I think I could stand to forget it entirely. If I were thinking about the "re-telling" of my apartment, I would have photographed the armoire in the bedroom, the buffet in which I was able to store my electronics and my school work. I would have photographed the odd looking water heater, and the miniscule television. I would have taken a picture of the 220-volt iron I had to buy, and then leave behind. These pictures would give people a detailed look at my everyday surroundings. I guess I don't live in the details, and I'll end up remembering only the broad strokes, and that filthy powder-blue carpet.

My mother-in-law has a different style. After her vacation on Catalina Island, we ended up with closeup pictures of the Saltillo tiles she encountered at her hotel. On another trip, she took a picture of a 7-11 convenience store because it had unique architectual elements. I saw some pop-culture merit in this 7-11 photograph and began to notice unique branches of 7-11 when I travelled.

I live in another state and was not able to witness her yard being dug up and put back together. When I saw the finished product more than a year later, I knew exactly what went in to its creation. I had a photo series that provided background and I liked being in-the-know. I once caught her taking a snapshot of a rather unremarkable pedestal sink in our old house. So, a photography compliment from such a photographer must be verified by other sources. Two moms, a dental professional, and one of T's co-workers have validated my photo skills. I can live with that.


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