see the light

Hands down, my favorite photography books, of the teach-me-how genre, are those by Henry Carroll. When I’ve seemingly lost my photographic mojo, I only need flip through the pages of one his books and I find immediate inspiration. And the funny thing is, it usually isn’t an idea for a different kind of picture to take – a new subject or technique or composition. No, it’s usually a flash of realization that leads me to appreciate a photograph I’ve already taken.

When I visited my mother in the locked-down dementia unit on Memory Lane today, I reminded myself I hadn’t taken her picture lately. It’s hard to make these kinds of pictures. Sometimes my sadness is palpable as I press the shutter. Other times I hold back tears because of some shared memory as we talk over old times.

Just after breakfast today, I found Mom napping on her bed in the warm sunshine. With her pink pants and her pink sneakers, she looked bright and cheerful and her mood matched her outfit. I snapped a few pics with my iPhone camera, insurance of memories of this good visit.

I discounted the picture as only a “snapshot,” not really giving the image its due. In Henry Carroll’s book, Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs Of Places, he talks about how we can elevate everyday places and encounters into something extraordinary through composition and exposure.

The light in this photograph prompts me to contemplate life’s journey and the struggles that will confront us all. Though this bedroom is in a nursing home and not her home, the warm light makes the place feel less lonely.

I see the light where moments are softened and faded, not gone or forgotten, but simply stored in the heart.

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