One of my recent birthday presents was to take the evening off and go see the new Godzilla movie. I was like a kid in a candy store. I saw it on an IMAX screen complete with the 3D glasses. Heavily buttered popcorn and Mountain Dew at the ready, I was set to take a journey back to my boyhood days and experience some good old monster mayhem!
The movie was indeed what I hoped for. It was actually a better 'movie' than I was expecting. Clearly it's not Oscar material, but then it was never meant to be. It was well done, with really pretty awesome special effects, and of course lots of stuff blowing up. But there was some pretty good character drama as well. It was here that the photography lesson (reminder) came into play.
The character played by Bryan Cranston is with his son on a return visit to their long since demolished home in the middle of a quarantine zone in Japan. In a prior scene he laments the fact that he had to evacuate so suddenly that he doesn't even have any family photos anymore. One of the first things he finds after entering the house is a somewhat tattered, but still visible, family photo in a broken frame. He clutches it like he'd found gold.
In a later scene his son is trying to get back to his family, and fight monsters all at the same time. One of the dramatic scenes they show is of him clutching a photo of his wife and son in a pretty dramatic, life threatening moment.
How many times have this scene played out in movies. How many times has this scene played out in your life. Did you pull out your yearbook to stare at the crush you had in high school. Do you have a favorite photo of someone dear to you that has passed away that you find yourself looking at regularly. Do you carry pictures of your kids in a wallet or purse.
I'm a photographer, so well composed, well lit, well produced photos are something I really appreciate. But the thing I was reminded of from the scenes in Godzilla is that the power of photography is in the connection to the viewer. A video or voice recording can have this same power, but not in the same way. When we have have a strong connection with the subject of the photo we can print it, carry it with us, hang a print on the wall....and get lost in the photo whenever we want to....or need to.
The best photographs capture the essence of the person, place or thing. It doesn't even have to be a technically well shot photo in all cases. The picture below always comes to mind when I think about favorite photos. I had just gotten my first digital DSLR camera. I was at the park with my girls. The picture is not in perfect focus, it's not perfectly framed, but in my mind it's one of my favorite shots. It captures the fun, and life in my kids at that moment in time. It's a picture I'll look at after the graduations, after the weddings, with a smile, and a tear.