First, I must precede this post by defusing the question that will undoubtedly arise about the horrible hairstyle I’m sporting in this picture. “What the heck was that?!?!?!” you may ask. I must rightly attribute that masterpiece to my Mother who apparently was channeling Edward Scissorhands as she evidently attempted to create the “Cesar” look on my unsuspecting and unruly head of hair. I’m certain she bit her lip 10 years later when George Clooney famously popularized the cut….”if only”– she said waving her fist in the air. As that statement completely absolves me from said transgression…on to the story of why I’m posting this picture.
As you’ve probably read in my bio on the website, my father was an avid photographer, so I have tons of snapshots from my childhood, and much like you, they’re in a big box, in a closet. I know you all know that box…it has all the old family photos that you only remember are there because you decided to “get organized” and, in your organizational madness, you came across it and proceeded to spend the next three hours going down memory lane…..and there went your “gonna-get-organized” project. That’s what happened. I was “organizing” and came across one of my three boxes full of photos and, as I merrily made my way through the box, I found this rare photo of me as a kid taking a picture (of what I don’t remember). I do remember where this was though and more or less when it was, but couldn’t recall the actual date. Back in those days, the photo labs printed the month and year on the back of the print (one of my favorite things about old photos), so I flipped the photo over and it said August 1984…EXACTLY 25 years ago this month! I was twelve years old.
I had traveled with my mother, older sister, and bother to St. Croix U.S.V.I. for a swimming competition. Traveling for swimming competitions had become quite normal in my family. I now realize how lucky I was to travel at such a young age, especially living in a small Central American country like Panama, where most people would never experience the world beyond their borders. By the age of twelve I was well travelled and, even more, I loved to travel. Airplane traveling was a big deal back then and a really fun experience too. They actually served real food with real utensils, each traveler got a nice pillow and blanket (which I permanently “borrowed” many times), and the flight attendants were actually nice. Yet, as much as I had traveled, I had never had a camera on those trips. By then I had already learned how to use my father’s fully-manual Pentax camera and was head over heels in love with the smell of the darkroom; but, I had never used his camera without his supervision. Consequently, I was beyond ecstatic when I got to take my father’s camera on this trip. If you ask me how it happened I wouldn’t be able to tell you…did I ask to take the camera? did he offer it? I don’t remember…all I remember was this…OH. MY. GOD!!! My Dad let me borrow his camera!!!!! ME! All by myself!!! Needless to say, I guarded it with my life. I don’t remember what I photographed or if any got printed. But that feeling of confidence and independence at having that camera was priceless.
25 years later, I’m still in love with looking at the world through that little hole in the camera. The choice of what stays in and what stays out of the picture is uniquely mine. What I see…how I see it…how I interpret it…what makes me click now versus a second, two seconds, three seconds later…it is an intrinsic mystery that I will never solve yet I know it is sensed, as all of who I am and have been gets imperceptibly imprinted in every one of my photographs. I’m excited to see the next 25 years as they will be undoubtedly shaped by the filters of my life experience and I look forward to continuing to live this mystery of life through photography. Here’s to another 25 and more…♥ Vanessa
“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed� in the deepest sense,
and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”