Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWO PICTURES AND A MOVIE


Some days ago, I watched "Memento" with Michelle. The title means "remember" in Latin. It's a crazy story (I'm still trying to figure it out) about this guy whose memory got completely messed up after his wife was killed. He actually doesn't have any short-term memory at all; so, he always carries a polaroid with him, takes pictures and then, before he forgets why he took that picture, writes down, on the polaroid's frame, the name of that person or place and a note about it.

When the movie was over, I remembered something that had happened a couple of weeks earlier. It has to do with two pictures. This is the first one:



I took it during an assignment about a church that provides a bus service to pick up children in rural areas and so make it easier for them to attend their Sunday activities. Certainly, it's not a Pulitzer prize winner, but I was satisfied with the fact that I did a decent job balancing the afternoon light outside with the light inside thanks to some flash bounced off the bus ceiling.
A few days later, Brennen Smith, one of my colleagues at the Decatur Daily, took this picture at an animal shelter:



And then I saw it! My picture was there, in the newspaper where those puppies were peeing and craping (can you see it?). I laughed out loud, but also thought about the short life of newspapers pictures: you take it, turn it in, it's printed in the paper the next day, and probably that same day shit is thrown on it or it's used to clean something. That's sad, dude, very sad.

So, after I watched that crazy movie, this fact came to my mind and then I thought, "Yes, it's true, a picture in a newspaper lasts for just one day -or even less. But, hey, what about the people in the photograph? Probably they'll keep a copy of that day's newspaper for much longer than that. Maybe they'll even show it to their grandchildren many years from now. That picture, whether it's good or not so good, will remind them of the past. They'll be happy to have a visual, tangible proof of that memory... just like the crazy guy in the movie."

I don't know if any of this makes sense, but this thought at least has made me to be (or try to be) even more respectful with the people I photograph and more aware about the fact that most of them will probably keep their picture for years.
I think it's a positive thought to end this roller-coaster year of 2008.
I wish a great 2009 for y'all!

4 comments:

Butifar Ra'Mun Getes said...

You're very right, and not only that, but the picture was printed in colour, not just B/W, so you can be proud of it. I do like it. A lot.

Jeronimo Nisa said...

Gracies, Butiffarra amb mongetes!

Pero quien eres? nos conocemos?

Steve Bartel said...

You know it makes me very happy to know that people are thinking that much about their pictures. I think in the newspaper world - and I'm speaking from personal experience - assigned pictures remain just that and there isn't an effort to read beyond a mere descriptive photograph of a given event, on the part of the photographer and certainly on the part of the reader.

Scott Strazzante's piece on Mediastorm is a prime example. You made me smile in a gloomy time for journalism, thanks.

cohnhead said...

I just saw my shots used as puppy training materials is well. It made me happy to see things come full circle. Enjoying having my work crapped on. Embrace the life of your images.