"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know." Diane Arbus (1923 - 1971)
It has often been said that "one picture is worth a thousand words." And if this is true (as I believe it is) then just think of the thousands upon thousands of words that are to be found in the photograph albums and photo saver boxes in our homes.
Childhood visits to my grandparents' home were made even sweeter when Gramm pulled out her shoe boxes filled with photographs. We'd sit at the kitchen table where Gramm would lovingly take the photos out of the box one-by-one. She'd tell me the stories that went with each picture. We'd talk about the people, places, pets, and objects found in those pictures. Oh how I wish I'd known then what I know now -- that the stories within each picture is to be savored and then shared -- passed down from one generation to the next.
On a post-high-school-graduation trip to Italy, I snapped an untold number of photographs. The developing fees for so many rolls of film were enough to break the piggy-bank but I didn't care. I wanted to capture the wonderful moments spent in that beautiful country. Not yet indoctrinated in the ways of travel journaling, or journaling of any serious sort, I have only those hundreds of photographs to document the trip. How I wish that I'd had the foresight to keep a travel journal. But, I didn't. The photos must stand alone to tell my story.
As a young parent, my mission was to take as many pictures as I could to document the near-daily changes and milestones for my first child. And, like so many others, it is a sad truth that there are fewer pictures of baby number two than there were of baby number one...and even fewer of baby number three. We get busy and the push to keep a photographic journal of each child's progress sometimes falls by the wayside. Blessedly, I did keep written accounts of the many joys and accomplishments of each of my girls.
Think of all the times and situations where we've grabbed a camera to make a lasting memory: A new home, a graduation, a wedding or a family outing filled with new adventures. Perhaps you snap photos of your latest creative projects such as knitted garments, scrapbooks, altered art, gardens, wood-working paintings, etc. And, if you're like me, many of your photos are images of the splendor of the world around us -- Mother Nature's beauty and uniqueness.
"As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure. " Susan Sontag
Take those photos out of the boxes. Open the pages of your photo albums. Spend some time savoring the images and remembering the very reason why you chose to snap those pictures in the first place. I guarantee you'll find thousands upon thousands of words just waiting for you to pen.
Perhaps when you've completed your writing based on a photograph or collection of photographs, you'd like to try integrating words and images. Such writings make wonderful journals for your own pleasure now and in the future. They also make fantastic gifts to pass on to family and friends.