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Sharing Moments, After

“I’ve never taken a photograph of someone and created a persona, I’ve just discovered what was already there.” ― Anthony Farrimond

I’ve been known to take a few pictures in my time. As with writing, it helps me focus on the things around me in a way I might not otherwise. I have friends that send me pictures of sunsets that they’re not putting on social media as a reminder that I tend to put a lot of such pictures on social media. I celebrate the ribbing, for it means I’m doing my part to share a bit of beauty and positivity in a world full of people inclined to share ugly and negative. That’s not us, friends. We’re here to light the world during our shift.

During occasions when family and friends come together, my attention shifts from pictures of nature’s beauty to the beautiful souls around me. There’s a fine line between being a part of the party and being apart from the party, and I try to stay in the moment while capturing some of it. Stopping a conversation for a picture can be disruptive, but if done well it might enhance and draw people together. When done well it captures the illusive and fragile moments we have together. Looking back on pictures from the last few years, it’s striking how many people are no longer with us. We can’t control fate, but we can capture moments before it intervenes.

At a Christmas Eve party just last night I was talking to someone about some of the settings in an iPhone. They shared a few tips that I immediately started trying. In portrait mode you can tap on someone’s face and everything in the background blurs, highlighting the face or faces you’ve chosen to focus on. It’s a nice trick that brings a measure of professional photography to the amateur. Perhaps my favorite thing about it is that focus. As in an intimate conversation, you’re drawn completely into the world of the person you’re focused on. In such moments we capture something more than the moment, we capture a glimpse into their soul.

I’m not a great photographer (I know too many great photographers to claim such mastery for myself), but I take enough pictures that I get a few good ones worth sharing. The way I look at it, that picture is a time machine, shared after the moment, carrying life force from one moment to another. That after moment might be turning the image around to show those you’ve just taken a picture of what it looks like, or it might be our great-grandchildren feeling the love through the eyes of a long-lost ancestor. This is the nature of photography, it tends to outlast us.

As the photographer in such moments, as with writing, one hopes for mastery, but accepts the best we can deliver in the present. Don’t we owe it to each other to capture our best moments together? Having captured an image, it becomes a gift for others in moments after.

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