I'll always have Paris
October 3, 2011
little house in memories, memories, personal, photography, photography, travel, travel

I remember a dark room, with early light squaring up against the desk at the end of the bed. Too early and a scratchy start to a weekend in Paris, woken by the shouts, laughter and noise of the bakery opposite. Too early to speak I picked up my camera and snapped. Still lives of our lives on the desk. Keys, notes, glasses, a watch. Bed, unmade. An unsmiling portrait of him, hands crossed, in the chair. That light, that street, that bakery. The rest of the weekend passed by as they did between us then: a little light followed by dark and back again. But nothing is as clear to me as that first morning. A morning more than 20 years ago. And those photographs exist only in memory as the roll of film didn't catch.

I was reminded suddenly of those lost images of the early days of a long-complicated affair when I read Brooke's post. And it made me think about why - and how - I take photographs. Sometimes my eyes see something that creates such a jolt of pleasure, or memory, that I feel a need to record it. Brooke describes beautifully how carefully she composes with film but, film or not, my method is to work quickly, without much regard for technique. Of course, it's a further joy when a moment captured looks as beautiful as it did in my mind but ultimately, the end result is less important than the process. And key to the process is being attentive, engaging, being present. 

Perhaps that answers why taking photographs is so important to me. It's a form of mindfulness - anchoring me back in the now - but also a reminder of what I repeat to myself so many times it must qualify as a mantra: there really is so much that is beautiful. Snapping a moment whose recall will later make me happy is my way of acknowledging, and being grateful for, those frequently incidental moments of pleasure that, together, make for happiness. My snaps are the scraps of happiness I throw in the path of a future I sometimes fear: a store of memories to remind me that sometimes it's better not to look ahead but simply to look around. Be here, right now - remember this.  

Those lost photos sound sad but, in my head, they aren't. Instead, they're a symbol of hope. Every time the shutter closed it said "the morning may not be what we wished but we're here, this is us, these are ours, this is you. That is a good thing."

Joel at 2. I love it despite its imperfections, for what it makes me remember.

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