We are all storytellers
“We are all storytellers, photojournalists of lives that are rich with tears, bruises, tenderness, strangeness and humor. There’s nothing wrong with shooting smiles and holidays and rituals, but life isn’t a marketing campaign. More interesting stuff is going on. That’s your job as a photographer – to shoot the world as it is. Remember that you have a story to tell and that the camera, honestly used, has a way of staring without being rude.” – George Lange
When I look at this photo, I don’t see a cute bathtub scene. I see an 11-month old infant about to undergo a nightmarish surgical trauma necessary to save his life, and his 27-month-old brother who cannot fully grasp what will happen, but who will nonetheless be indelibly influenced by the fear, uncertainty, and disruption of everyday life that lies ahead in the coming months and years.
I remember going into the bathroom to take this photo because I wanted a shot of Matt’s chest before it was cut open. I didn’t really care that he would have a scar running from just below his neck to the bottom of his rib cage, but I did want to capture a memory of the baby who had not yet known that kind of suffering; the tiny boy who was still untouched by the first of many wounds to come. Of course, I also was keenly aware that this little one might not survive to have another bathtub photo taken.
I’m sure there are many who might wonder why I would even keep, let alone celebrate, a photo that brings back the memory of such fear and sorrow. But the baby did survive, as did his brother and mother and father, and their story is “rich with tears, bruises, tenderness, strangeness and humor.”
I am certain that anyone who is reading this also has a story to tell, a story equally tender and strange and rich with joy and sorrow. My wish for you is that you will remember your story, all of it, and use your camera or art or music or words to commemorate your journey.
Your story matters.
This post was first published seven years ago today. As I schedule this post, less than two weeks before it will be re-published, that baby in the picture is now a 36 year old man. He has had countless surgeries, including the five heart surgeries that involved the cutting open of his sternum, and he survives as a witness of God’s grace, as well as the amazing progress of heart surgery during his lifetime. For example, he is scheduled for a third replacement of his tricuspid valve next week, and we are hopeful it can be done by a catheter procedure that will spare him heart/lung bypass and the trauma of midsternal incision that was necessary the first two times it was replaced.
The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.