Monday, July 11, 2011

Timbers of my Heart

During lunch one afternoon I had an interesting conversation with some friends; one that was probably deeper than one expects while taking a break from studying. We had spent the morning studying embryology. A topic that derives life down to the basics of biophysics and molecular chemical signals and atomic interactions. I was feeling pretty comfortable with the material and was excited to talk about what I had memorized. Soon the topic shifted to the amazing product of embryology...US! Like a proud dad I found myself talking about life's absolute beauty and how grateful I am to watch the dynamics of nature and providence play out in the lives of my two sons. 

That evening as I was working on pictures from a recent wedding, I noticed an old folder I had highlighted for editing titled "Timbers." Weird name for a folder. At first I thought it was from some random landscapes I took. When I opened the folder I was pleasantly surprised to find images of my family that I had stored away. At some point I had inspirations to create a portfolio book of meaningful images, but with life things are often stowed away in the attic of wants and wishes. Funny thing about that folder is that most of its images weren't that great in terms of composition or even simple photography mechanics. In fact, some of them were just simply "bad." I snickered a little bit and after enjoying the respite redirected my efforts into wedding processing.

A couple of days later I was discussing image selections with the newly wed couple whose images I had been working on the night I found the "Timber" folder. There was a lot of, "We would like two 5x7s of the siblings and three 8x10s of the family shot." For each wedding I offer one free 11x14 metallic paper print. When I asked them which one they wanted for their 11x14 they chose a most unlikely image...the groom being smashed in the face by a handful of cake. I laughed thinking it was a joke...Whoops! The bride didn't think it was so funny. I apologized and told her that most couples reserve the free print for one of their "sentimental" pictures. Her reply was simple, "This is who we are, funny, not sappy." 

Love it!

As a photographer my job is always easier when my clients know exactly what they want. 

After saying goodbye to the young couple I thought about all the time I spent editing their wedding images. I had fretted about straightening, composition, rule of thirds, white balance, contrast, sharpness and a slew of other things. In the end the couple only really wanted what best represented them and not what I had contrived to be the archetypical wedding shots.

I thought back to "Timbers", that funny titled folder. The title is from Joe Pug, a crazy drunk Irish artist, who sings about "the timbers of his heart." The analogy has stuck with me; an image of a man, his hopes, his desires, and his soul defined by what pumps his heart. The timbers of my heart are sewn from a lot of things; family, friends, faith, and fatherhood. But like the newly weds, my strongest timbers are buttressed to the notion that I have so much for which to be grateful. This idea was never more evident than in the images I stowed away. 

Everything can be broken down into core components. Life can be defined by moments of time. Religion to its key beliefs. Embryology to developmental stages. And to me...timbers.

I realize that up to now you have dredged through a lot of words...most unlike me...Right? Hold on a little bit longer. Indulge me for a little bit longer and let me share with you one of my timbers. 

You've probably seen this image before. One of my favorites. Taken at an awkward angle with a point and shoot. Outside the Chill'n Grill in Palmyra, NY. It's late and Greg is tired. Chocolate hangs on his right vermillion border. The hat is crooked and his left hand clenches his bear. Every so slightly he leans against my left elbow, too small to find a proper rest in the angle of my elbow and too big to be swept up and cuddled. Tell tall signs of sleepiness drape the canthi and his stout chin clenches after a brief yawn.

So much to say for something so seemingly simple. 

However, as Joe sings, "Will you recognize my face when God's grace strips me of my jacket and vest and reveals the treasure of my chest?"

Yup, here it is.


Amber said...

You're so sweet. I miss you!

Maren&Jordan said...

I love you! I can't wait to see you