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Getting Read for Halloween: Life’s Finest Moment Are Seldom Photographed

Halloween 2010

Looking through some photographs I found inside a drawer
I was taken by a photograph of you
There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more
But they didn’t show your spirit quite as true
You were turning ’round to see who was behind you
And I took your childish laughter by surprise
And at the moment that my camera happened to find you
There was just a trace of sorrow in your eyes…
From Jackson Browne’s Fountain of Sorrow

I am convinced that the best things in life are seldom, if ever, photographed. They involve the vast array of intimate exchanges that occur between and among human beings. Every time I drive through the streets of Oklahoma City, I am looking at everything as if through a camera’s lens whether I am peering through it or not.

A skilled photographer I am not, but I do have an expensive camera and I know excellent content when I see it. I also have enough experience to know that the camera sees things that we don’t always see. The other day, I photographed a FedEx truck sitting in the rain at a stoplight. When I downloaded the photo later, I realized that the green light from the opposite intersection was reflecting on the side of the truck. For me, the reflection was magical. The color of the truck, the color of the light, the color of the sky and the rain created a perfect composition. And, I never saw the green light, and therein lies the metaphor.

I am always scouting for those private moments that the presence of a camera diffuses. Most of the time, when I come across them I reach for my camera and it’s either not there or if it is the battery is dead. If I’m lucky enough to have the camera and it’s working, by the time I get in position, the moment has passed. Either the subject has spotted me or they have moved beyond the space of the moment I wanted to capture.

If you want to photograph people and things in their natural environments, then you must always be prepared for those intimate moments to occur when you least expect it. I’m going to work at having my camera always ready like it was today when I was driving on May Avenue south NW 23rd. I passed this father painting his child’s face for Halloween. I turned my car around and circled back. I had to stop right in the middle of the street, and just as I was taking this second shot their eyes caught mine.

Seeing this made me so happy. I felt so incredibly lucky to be present in their moment – to see this daddy getting his children ready for the childhood ritual of trick-or-treating. I could feel his love for his son as he gently painted his soft brown face blue.

Happy Halloween!


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. jenX

    TR – You have such grace, and the thoughtfulness of your comments make my days so much better. You are a treasure!! And, clearly, i’m not the only one who thinks so!!

  2. T.R.

    It’s even more beautiful than I imagined it to be Jen! You are a born photographer – when the heart and brain connect with the button – there’s nothing better. This post is so beautiful. It’s really a tribute to how you see the world. You are a master of gently easing the infinitesimal beauty of this world into focus for all of us to see – either with your words or your photos – or in some extraordinary cases – both.

  3. jenX

    @GRACIE – Thanks, Gracie!!

  4. jenX

    @YUIN TING CHIN – I visited your blog. I had no idea they celebrated halloween in malaysia. i loved the pictures.

    @MIRUSPEG – Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. These are the things that get us through the days, huh? I’d love to see that photo.

    @YOGI – You’ve taken some awesome photos with that cheap camera, yogi!

    @JIM – Oh! I’m so glad you said it. Because so many times, too many times, in fact, I don’t circle back.

    @RAGAMUFFIN GAL – Thank you! It’s great to hear from you!

    @VIVIAN SWIFT – The other day, I was driving on an four-lane highway in OKC. The person next to me said, “Do you remember driving on this street before they did all that construction?” I could not remember, and yet, during four years of college and even after, I’d driven on that road. It’s disappeared from my memory. I take my camera into the grocery store, too. Once, I photographed those crepe paper/tissue paper flower things they hang in front of each aisle. Writers and photographers think alike!!

  5. Vivian Swift

    Great photograph! Even better, great eye.

    About ten years ago I got in the habit of carrying a camera around with me when I realized that I didn’t have enough pictures of ordinary life, all the everyday things that were disappearing so quickly.So I take pictures in the grocery store, in my favorite thrift shops, pictures of the old diners and bars and houses in the neighborhood; I even take pictures of my favorite trees. Once in a while I can get the nerve to take a picture of an interesting person.

  6. Anonymous

    Love your new Masthead!
    Hugs– Gracie

  7. Ragamuffin Gal

    I am so glad you were there able to capture this moment! Your words so aptly describe these moments, I hope you never stop catching them and writing about it!

  8. Jim Smith

    I’m finding that stopping the car and turning around is an inconvenience that almost always pays great dividends. Your wonderful photo is further confirmation for me. Beautiful!!!

  9. Yogi♪♪♪

    A very complete post. Photograph that is very beautiful on many levels, a Song, and great words.

    I’m inhibited from photographing people that I don’t know. Nor do I have an eye for content and my camera is about as cheap as they come but I’ve learned that a photograph doesn’t wait. You are either there to take it or not. So I always have it with me.

  10. miruspeg

    Jen you have an exquisite way of expressing yourself. This post has everything.
    A beautiful Jackson Browne song, a delightful photograph AND your words!

    I am often pleasantly surprised when I download my photos.
    Once I photographed a child on the beach with a lighthouse in the distance. When I downloaded the photo a seagull had flown by and was in line with the child and the lighthouse….it is still my most cherished photo.

    Hope you had best halloween ever.

    Lots of love and light coming your way.

    Peggy xxxxx


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