“Is a snapshot a matter of fulfilling your expectations or is it a picture of one moment in time?”
From the archives: 2003
Is a snapshot a matter of fulfilling your expectations or is it a picture of one moment in time?
I spent some time with a friend of mine the other day. It was the friend who introduced me to the Taking Children Seriously philosophy. She was musing over a set of proofs from a recent photo shoot with her extended family.
“I look awful in all of them,” she commented, “but I have always hated this sort of formal posing and smiling on cue for the camera. And I’m not good at it.” She passed the pictures over to me, one by one.
The large group picture showed your typical extended family grouping: a pleasant tree and garden setting, grandparents in the center with the adult children and their respective families ordered around the patriarch and matriarch of the clan. Everyone was grinning fixedly at the camera—except for my friend and her family and the other small children present. This last group were in various stages of blinking or watching someone else or looking glum.
“The photographer kept saying ‘Here, just let me position you.’ and we didn’t want that,” she explained. “Disapproval was thick in the air. I doubt my folks or my sibs will want a copy of this family shot.”
Looking at the family photo in my hand, I saw the dynamics of my friend’s family, frozen as a snapshot of that moment of history, on that day, in that year. My friend’s partner was gazing benignly at the camera with a slight smile. Seated next to him, my friend was grinning at her middle child, who was standing against her knees with his hands on his forehead, imitating a bull. The pre-teen was standing behind the group, detachedly looking up at the sky. The youngest, the twins, were pulling up handfuls grass to sprinkle on each other.
“It looks just like you,” I said. “Can I have a copy?”