My husband doesn’t understand why I can never delete any of my pictures. He can take 5 photos, choose his favorite and easily delete the other 4. I don’t have that gumph. I like the off photos, the pictures that will never be posted on Instagram, that show people in the moments before or after they pose. Some of my favorite photographs are those where the subject doesn’t seem to know they are being photographed, the photos that are slightly out of focus, blurred.
When I was little, my memories were made from the perspective of a little child. I think about this as I go through the day with my boys; wonder what they see. I think about how much of the world they are taking in and what it looks like from their perspective. I wonder what they will remember when they are older and I hope that their memories will be made richer from my photographs.
I treasure the few pictures I have from my childhood, especially the pictures with my mom. Even the pictures that have long been lost to time and cross country moves but are kept in memory. I remember her as I saw her from my childish stance. I can see her hands, the pants she wore, the white moon shaped cuticle at the base of each nail. I catch glimpses in my mind’s eye of the highlights in her hair that I noticed in the airport one time when she flew back to Arkansas. I can see her stepping on a shovel as she works the dirt in her vegetable garden in our front yard on Elm Street, the curve in her back as she kneels next to the flower bed, pulling weeds. I remember the feel of the tubes and dressings on her body, hidden by her tie-dye t-shirt, as I hugged her when she picked me up from day camp, and the stillness of her body, eyes closed, as she lay in the hospital bed the last time I saw her. It’s harder to see her face, her eyes, to imagine her voice, her laugh, to remember many of the things she said to me, the conversations we must have had.
The few photos that I have of her inform me of who she was, how she felt, what she looked like. My favorites are the photos that catch her in a laugh or a far off glance. They give me a fuller picture of a three-dimensional woman. They are a clue as to the woman that I may have known had she been around when I was old enough to care about knowing her more fully.
So I keep the off photos, the blurry shots, the accidentals, the photographs taken when there isn’t really anything to see. I cherish them, even though I don’t know what to do with all of them. I imagine them in albums one day and until then simply look back from time to time and remember all the small moments that were shared among our growing family.
Here are some of my favorite, recent, off photos (most of which I think are better then the posed):