Saturday, May 2, 2009

The persistence of memory

“We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.” – Ansel Adams

Every so often, I think, one must forget about taking pictures with a viewing audience outside oneself in mind and instead capture images that are deeply personal and which resonate with meaning within one's own memory and mind. We have to remember that, while we capture the world with our lens, we can also capture pieces of ourselves. If those pieces of ourselves speak to our audiences in some way, so much the better. But the real purpose of it all is to make sense of our own hearts by making sense of those pieces of us that reside in other things.

The photo above won't really mean anything much to anyone outside of myself and some members of my family. But to me, it is a real piece of my vanished childhood. This is my grandfather's chair. Throughout my living memory, this was the chair where my grandfather sat in the mornings before the day had truly started, and where he sat in the evening as the day was winding down to night. He sat and read, or he sat and listened to the radio, or he sat and shelled peas he'd grown with his own hands, or he sat and wrote poetry about family and love and faith. He's been gone several years now, but that chair is still the heart of the house in which my grandmother still resides. No one but the sunlight will sit in it; it isn't ours, not really. It will always be his, and maybe someday, he'll come visit us again and sit in his chair and watch as his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren eat and laugh and enjoy the life he gave us. We mostly likely won't know he's there, of course, not with our eyes or our minds. But maybe, just maybe, our hearts will know he's watching and that he loves us still.


  1. That's a beautiful photograph and story. I'm glad you were able to capture something so valuable to you! Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a lovely story behind that beautiful photo. Thanks so much for sharing it. You've inspired me to photograph more of the sentimental pieces in my home. A wonderful idea!