Today I offer up a trifecta of images, none strongly related to another, but each having something to offer in terms of education, entertainment, and exploration.
This first image is a nice simple timeless photo of a mom (mine, in this case) being mob hugged by their over-enthusiastic naked child. She’s got that oh-so-common expression that blurs the line between motherly bliss and ‘oh my god, he’s choking me!’ that any parent can recognize. The front yard was a common place for us to hang out when I was a little child, and truthfully is something that I miss about my current home (I live in an Eichler with a courtyard, built to face inward and backward – very European, but does not foster neighborly contact). I have very strong sense memories of this location, as it’s the home I grew up in from infancy until I left for college, but other than my own nostalgia, there is little that is remarkable about this shot.
This next shot I’m a bit younger, and we’re in the same location as the last shot, but what is remarkable to me is the framing. I’m not sure if this is user error (did my mom know how to use the camera properly?) but my dad is completely out of frame, and I’m up in the upper left quadrant. This is decidedly not portraiture, but now enters into the realm of art or cynical social commentary. I feel like we’re seeing the remnants of a family photo torn apart by a disgruntled spouse, saving only the portion desired and discarding the remainder, or perhaps a commentary on how we are all shifting slowly out of frame, and our identity is lost (the head) with the emergence of our children. Or, it could be a commentary on how my father had to work multiple jobs as I was growing up, and even here his absence is felt even in his presence. He’s dressed in work clothes (grubby overalls), and has stopped in the middle of his travails only long enough to prop me up for a photo, and even that feels rushed and nominally considered. Even the scraggly nature of the lawn speaks of neglect. And yet, I’m happy as a clam, sitting on my groovy seventies pillow in the middle of the yard. Perhaps it’s best to blame it all on bad framing and leave it at that.
This is the gem of the trio that I’ve saved for last. The framing on this one is artful, very nearly a masterpiece, as I nonchalantly walk down the industrial-feeling sidewalk, drinking a Bud while my mom looks on in distracted pride. One might ask, why is that mother letting her son drink a can of beer? Given that she’s a 17-year-old parent, maybe you might chalk it up to youthful indiscretion. The more interesting question is, however, who is taking the picture? Also, it was coyly pointed out to me from another friend that grew up in a smoker household – this might be the moment right before I get a mouthful of ash and cigarette butts. Caveat Emptor. Still, this shot is good enough to be enlarged and framed. Bravo to the genius that saw, framed and shot this one. This is hands-down my favorite baby picture of myself.