I used to do a lot of photography. And even back when I started taking pictures seriously around 2009, it wasn't really about art or money or making a statement (although later it did become those things). My photography mainly centered around two things: people and events.
I learnt about photography principles of course -- the rule of thirds, the power of a wide aperture/selective focus and of zooming in, what sorts of compositions work best, how to use colour and light to draw attention and enhance the mood. My photography grew lovely in its own right, and by now it's so second nature I often barely realise I have a camera in my hand. My Nikon is essentially an extension of my arm. But the subjects are still mostly people and events.
When I started taking pictures, my goal was to capture moments and keep them. It was mostly for my own personal record more than anything. To this day I'll stop to take a picture of something and whoever is with me will give me a strange look -- 'that? Seriously?' -- but because they know taking random pictures is something I do, they say nothing. After all, no harm done. And my friends and family have long since gotten used to me wandering around with a camera at all times.
And now, in the wake of three deaths, one cancer diagnosis, and two shattered marriages, all involving people I love dearly, I'm reminded why I started taking pictures in the first place.
It's like a mini time machine. I was looking for pictures of my recently-deceased young cousin (it was her birthday), and in my quest I found myself scrolling back through 2013 -- the year I discovered Daniel Amos and started college... 2012 -- the year we held our Father's Day party as a barbeque... 2011 -- the year we invited a lady from our church to our family Christmas gathering and our dance school staged Little Bo Peep... 2010 -- the year of my accident, the last family reunion... 2009 -- how tiny my sisters look! the year my sister began ballet classes...
I had forgotten most of this. I had forgotten how my sisters looked so young. It's funny to think how at one time I could not picture them any other way, but five years later I hardly recognised them. Their hairstyles are different, two are now wearing glasses, one has lost a drastic amount of weight. I'd forgotten how short my brother once was. I had forgotten the full brilliance of Brittney's sweet shy smile and seriously cool wardrobe. I had forgotten that once my aunt and uncle would laugh and once they would sit beside each other and hold hands. I had forgotten what my uncle's twinkling eyes looked like -- last time I saw him, only a few weeks ago, those eyes were so lifeless. He was a completely different person from the man who hugged me goodbye last Christmas.
There was a time when things were right -- when everyone was here who should have been, when people were healthy and happy and while there were always smaller problems and the occasional falling out, we were all here. We were together. We smiled and laughed and no-one was missing. I can't bring that back (how I desperately wish I could!). But for a few minutes I can return there and see it all laid out before me, re-insert myself in the space, hear their voices again, if only in my mind.
Maybe it's a waking dream. But it brings the missing ones closer to me.