As a photographer, you never know what image you might catch and how that image may be perceived by others. Every photo tells a story to each of us…but it doesn’t mean the story we tell ourselves is anywhere near what actually was occurring at the time the photo was snapped. The photo above seems to tell a story of a couple sharing a loving embracing before one of them steps onto the trolley and leaves the other behind. But, that is not the story at all!
When I stumbled upon this image, I was on one my journeys to capture images of romantic faraway places that hopefully inspired adventure within the soul. It is customary for me to join travel groups and learn about the history of these locations, as it gives me a greater appreciation of the location. Plus, these guided tours tend to be scheduled in the early morning, when the light shines perfectly into the alleyways creating a splendid play of highlights and shadows. These factors arise feelings of creativity and tranquility within allow me to be present in the moment, so that I am able to see frames that I felt would be invisible to me if the moment was not friendly to artistic work. Prior to this photo, I held the belief that emotions at any given moment bleed into the image being captured. Goodness, was I wrong! I am about to tell you the story behind the above photo to relay a message to aspiring photographers and artists of all mediums that art is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
Okay, so as I mentioned, people tend to see a couple in a tearful embrace before parting. The actual occurrence of events goes like this:
Tuesday morning, the tour was scheduled from 7 am to 2 pm; just enough time for me to grab something decent to eat and feel the satisfaction I yearned for after a successful morning shoot. Now, I had heard of taking tours with others that are downright awful. But, I myself had never experienced such a tour, and I had taken hundreds. I assumed that these were tall-tales used to spin colorful scenes in movies. And this group seemed to be as any other; small units of 2 or 3 sharing a trip setup for tourists to the area. As we walked, my fellow travelers quietly talked among themselves, commenting on the the beauty of the architecture and what not. After an hour of walking along, the grumbling began with comments, such as, “my legs are getting tired”, “are we ever going to sit down”, and “this looks the same as the rest”. I sighed, more to let my stress-release valve go, for I was taking on the tension of the group. And I really believed this disharmony affected my work. Then, just as I was about to scrap it and slip away from the group, it was time to get onto the trolley. I was surprised to hear a cheerful “hooray” shared by the group, upon the guide stopping at the trolley and telling us to get on. I now know that he must have overheard the negative commentary from the other tourists. Whatever prompted the guide to stop the trolley did not matter to me. I was relieved that everyone appeared to be happy and relaxed, which, in turn, would allow my creative juices to once again flow, I got onto the trolley. Worst mistake that I ever made! Or…best decision I ever made, as we shall come to see.
The elderly couple, Margaret and Phil, began to have a little tiff over whether Phil took his medications that morning and how Margaret should have been kind enough to remind him that he needed this pill or that with his morning breakfast…yawn! Becky, overhearing this tiff, commented to Jack that she thought Phil was right because clearly he needed help and Jack replied, “yeah, well, you didn’t remind me to bring the extra battery for my camera and you are the only one who knows where it is.” With that, the guide started to speak louder over these verbal intrusions, which began to wear thin on my disposition, as so did the obnoxious conversations. All these interruptions hindered my appreciation of the way the light fell on the buildings, which led to a shaky hand. Then, I will never forget the hacking cough of Bernie, the presumable late 50s aged son of Margaret and Phil, that…just…wouldn’t…stop! Take a drink already!!! Sigh. Kind as Ginny as was, she offered Bernie a bottle of water, which was apparently her husband’s last one, as he said loudly enough for all to hear, “Ginny, c’mon, we have a lot of walking to do and because you didn’t bring the translator, do you have any idea how hard it will be to buy a drink?!” Ugh. Others on the trolley seemed as uncomfortable as myself and I would bet we were all holding our breath waiting for the guide to announce the tour was over. Just as icing on the cake, but not as welcomed, the guy who showed up late, smelling of Patchouli oil, suddenly yelled, “Dude, no!!! Stop! Stop! I dropped my shades, man!” I nearly thanked him, when the trolley abruptly stopped and the guide thought it was the opportune time to end the tour. This was despite the fact that we were still a block from the historic landmark where the tour was scheduled to end. I didn’t blame him. I was ready to end the nightmare, as well. As clear evidence of my desire to be done with this tour, I was the first one off the trolley. And, as I made my hasty escape up the hill, I scrolled through my images. It was then I realized that I had taken plenty of strange, blurry, and unidentifiable photos, which I can only assume to this day were the railing and window frame of the trolley. Beyond feeling war-torn, I tiredly and slowly turned around, hoping to capture one photo of the trolley with a backdrop of the buildings. Seeing all my tour mates in the shot, I rested on the wall, waiting for them to…WALK OUT OF MY SHOT ALREADY! When, right in front of me, the young couple who had been quiet and reserved, holding hands and occasionally smirking at the chaos ensuing on our trolley ride, embraced. He whispered something to her that I couldn’t make out, but she giggled, then smiled and they hugged. Ignoring the nuisances in the background, I snapped the shot, figuring I could crop “them” out later.
The lesson here is that whether whatever tainted your feelings in the moment that you captured your shot are cropped or not, the beholder sees something entirely different than you. To my own pleasant surprise, my aggravation and mental exhaustion did not come across in this image. So, before you crop and fiddle with an image that reminds you of the less than perfect moment you experienced at that very moment, try to remember that art is in the eye of the beholder and you are not the only beholder of every image you take. Even though that was a rough morning for me, I am thankful for the experience, however dreadful, that changed my perspective and taught me to be more flexible and accepting of my “art”. Happy snapping everyone!
-I hope you liked this take on the photo! Love the challenge! And, no, I am not a photographer =)