One Year Of Photography by Howard Haby

301/365: A Mother & Daughter

The following photo is of one of my favorite photos. It’s just an excellent photo, and I love it. 

The little girl in the photo, grasping her mother’s hand and looking up at her, maybe admiring her mom, maybe waiting for an answer to an asked question, is my wife, Amy. I don’t have all the details of that day, but Amy told me in passing that she thought a nurse had taken the photo. Daphne, Amy’s mom, has what looks like a kettle in her other hand. She could be returning with water for a boil-up to make tea, or it could be full of berries from berry picking. I don’t know. It’s late at night right now, so I can’t call anyone and I just thought I should make this my photo for today.

Essentially, to me, it demonstrates why photography is important. I doubt the nurse who had taken this photo thought much about how it could affect someone seeing it years and years down the road, but she might have. I get immense joy from looking at this photo. One reason is simply because it’s of two people who are important to me, existing before I knew of them – just a moment in time. And it gives me a glimpse of my wife as a little girl, caught in a completely random and candid moment. It seems they aren’t even aware of the photographer. Or maybe they are, and that is why Daphne is looking down, and maybe she muttered “shit” when she realized her photo was going to be taken, and Amy looked up at her. 🙂 That thought makes me giggle, but that’s the fun thing about photography. It can make you think.

When I look at this photo, I also try to see it objectively, and think it’s just a very sweet moment between any mother and daughter. When I think like this, it’s quite possible that I experience the same feeling the photographer must have had at the time of this photo – it’s just an adorable moment. The flip side of this is, the photo of course was taken back in the film days so the photographer may not have realized until after the film was developed, the perfect timing of this shot. However, she may have seen and hoped she had caught that moment – when you take photos a lot, you see things a little different, you start to believe you can see things in fractions of a second – 1/60 th of a second, 1/125, 1/250 – and if you believe you can, after a while, you do – Amy had looked up for a very quick, split second and ‘snap’. Now it’s history.

Something else: Amy’s blond hair, fat cheeks and round face in this photo (sorry honey, but …just stating the facts here) are simply precious and adorable – the picture of innocence. Special, isn’t it? Photos like this are just really, really cool. A lot of us may have photos similar to this in our own family albums, if we bothered to look. And if you don’t, well… why not try to make them? And if you drive your kids mad trying to get those special moments, invest in a long lens and find a bush to hide behind. And if family members are really sensitive to the lens, let the photos age for a while before showing everyone, like a nice wine. I can garauntee you that at some point in the future, someone will appreciate them.



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