“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower…”
–William Blake, Auguries of Innocence—
…or in one click of a camera.
One picture is worth a thousand words. Some pictures lay out the facts, like a road map.
But others have all the elements of a great novel, crammed into one quick snap.
For me, the best stories raise questions as well as give answers.
They present universal dilemmas, and show us how people learn to cope with trauma or loss.
A disaster becomes a compelling tragedy, although the victims lived two thousand years ago, if we can relate to their suffering. And who can’t?
We like to tie up our stories in neatly arranged ribbons and give them happy endings. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?
But that’s not always possible. Perhaps the best stories–and photographs–just remind us of what it is to be human.
All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck.
Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Theme: Split-Second Story.
In a museum in Vienna we saw statues of ancient Egyptian pharaohs, usually standing alone and looking very grand. Occasionally one was portrayed with his spouse, each sitting upon a throne, like salt and pepper shakers; a matched set, but separate. Then we came to a sculpture of an Egyptian couple sharing the same seat, a simple stone block. I don’t remember who it was, some Ramses or other, but it didn’t matter. He leaned into her ever so slightly, and her arm rested gently on his back in such a fond and tender gesture that it warmed the stone. Not just mummies waiting to happen, they were flesh and blood humans who must have loved as tenderly as we do. Togetherness for all times, and all time.
In Vienna we visited The House of Music, where we saw this Mozart Family portrait. Seated at the piano were young Wolfgang, his sister Maria Anna, and their father Leopold. Anna Maria, Leopold’s wife and the mother of his children had died, but they couldn’t think of having a family portrait painted without including her. They commissioned a portrait of the deceased Anna Maria within the painting, which strikes me as sad, but sweet. Togetherness in any case.
Oh, my gosh! I look at this picture of my husband and kids at an open-air history museum in Switzerland, and while I laugh aloud just to look at it, my heart is melting. My sister Con says the one who wields the camera wields the power; if you are aiming a camera at folks and ask them to jump off a cliff, she says they’ll do it for the sake of the shot. This photo might be taken as proof of Con’s theory, but I took it as proof of their love for the family photographer and to a certain sense of loyalty and fun. Togetherness at any price!
But if I had to choose one photo to depict what “together” means to me, it would be this one snapped in the streets of Orvieto, Italy. It brings to mind the marriage vows Thom and I made to each other twenty-nine years ago. “Grow old with me, the best is yet to come…”
All words and imaged copyright Naomi Baltuck