“It’s that little extra something in a snapshot that transforms a photograph into something more: a visual interpretation of one’s vision. A story, captured in a frame. It’s that special skill . . .— the photographer’s eye.”
Jim had the photographer’s eye, and this particular frame of a window on his world never fails to make me smile.
He took it during that last trip, folding his lanky frame so he could kneel in stone-strewn sand and zoom in on a festively mohawked iguana, impervious to our admiring attention. The iguana rested his armor-plated chin on the rock and clasped it firmly between splayed fingers which echo the royal ridges in his neatly appointed crest and caudal spines.
My rock, he seemed to be announcing. My world, here in my hands right now. I am satisfied. What more could I need?
Jim, the family rock for a large and extended family, happily took photographs of these striking (though perhaps not traditionally handsome) creatures. Knowing he was not far from death, Jim remained as content in each moment as those iguanas seemed to be. What more could I need than to be with my family in this place in the sun, looking at such creatures, in this moment?
This was the world through Jim’s eyes.
When we uploaded thousands of pictures (from no fewer than five cameras among the six of us) from this trip, they arranged themselves by date and without distinguishing their photographers by name. But I have absolutely no hesitation in picking out every one of Jim’s pictures, no matter what the subject–and even when several of us were taking pictures from the very same spot.
The world through my eyes always has been different than Jim’s–and often far less well-lit and composed.
Asked to depict our own pictorial windows on the world, a musical refrain immediately took up residence in my brain. (Technically, I suppose, Peter Gabriel probably should have provided the earworm for this task) Once again, though, John Hiatt’s lyrics speak of what’s been shattered and lost, but are set to an irresistibly upbeat bluesy track.
(It does not suffice simply to tap a toe to John Hiatt song: you need to unleash tense muscles, loosen your shoulders, stand up and dance.)
“A cup of coffee in a shaky hand
Wakin’ up in a foreign land
Tryin’ to act like I got somethin’ planned
That’s my window on the world. . . .”
“That’s my window on the world
Could you stand a little closer, girl
The Queen of Sheba meets the Duke of Earl
That’s my window on the world”