Story Stills

I fell in love with photography from an early age, not the being in them, but the looking at them. My grandfather kept a lot of amazing black and white photographs of the summer camp he and my grandmother ran from 1933 to 1968, which felt like looking at film stills from Meatballs. As a little kid I’d look at the photos of boys playing baseball or learning how to shoot arrows (this was the 50s, they probably also learned how to boil lead paint into a tasty stew) and imagine their lives, what they fought about with their parents or each other, what they made of coming from Manhattan to the untamed woods and waters of New Hampshire.

Photos tell a story. Just because it’s cliche, doesn’t make it less true.

A while ago, I was at dinner with a group of people and one of them started complaining about the way “this generation,” which, c’mon you were “this generation” once, let’s not be so superior, buries their heads in their tech or else is so obsessed with clicking selfies with their camera phones that they miss out on everything. What a waste! he said in a very harumphy-old-man way. I politely disagreed. Though, beer was involved so the level of politeness is still under dispute.

When I’m out with my camera–my big girl rig or my iPhone–I feel more aware, more plugged in, more awake. Because I’m looking for the story. Even selfies tell stories–of silly times, of bad decisions, of milestones, of heartbreak that you couldn’t even see coming. People used to believe that photographs captured truth. Even in our age of digital manipulation, I think this remains essentially valid: photos distill an essence of truth and invite us in to see what story develops.

Here are a few story stills I’ve discovered.

duck styling
Photo ©smoeschen

The statues inspired by Robert McClosky’s Make Way for Ducklings is an iconic part of Boston’s Public Gardens. You often can’t even get close to them with all the tiny people climbing all over them or with parents propping their infants on them (and this is the generation appalled when you talk about not having a car with seat belts). I lucked out one afternoon to catch this little guy stylin like a boss! Proof of that terrific ism “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

photo ©smoeschen

Every time I happen upon a wall, an alley way, or the side of a building splashed with something that isn’t an advertisement for another fucking bank, my heart lifts and I think that somehow humanity is going to slide home for the win. Of course who doesn’t need a life size reminder these days about what really matters? Love, family, all the beautiful things that feed our souls. YES! and THIS!

photo ©smoeschen
photo ©smoeschen

I rounded a corner and caught these lovelies with their faces turned fearlessly to the sun. It was the tail end of autumn, a time when I start to get a little squirrely missing the daylight as it runs through our fingers. I’m writing this in afternoon dusk of December 21, the shortest day of the year. It felt like an inspired reminder of how during this time of year and in this time of our times–with so much fear, anger, sadness, and loss in the world–it’s more important than ever to aggressively, selfishly, bravely seek out the light and turn our faces and our hearts towards it.


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