Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Watercolour by Tony Taylor http://www.paintingbreaksguernsey.com

Friday, 8 January 2016

SNAP HAPPY

"What will survive of us is love."  Philip Larkin

Like most things, photography has changed beyond imagination during my lifetime and taking a photograph is no longer an event: nowadays it’s a commonplace activity, indulged in almost unthinkingly, like snacking or swearing.
The first camera I remember was my mother’s Box Brownie which, as the name suggests, was an oblong box that contained a spool of film. It had a small window on top where the operator could view the sitter's image. 

Photographs, ‘snaps’ as we called them, used to be monochrome and generally quite small. 
Street-photographers and professionals produced larger prints, but the amateur, recreational snapper, and my mother was one of these, was generally content with simply capturing a recognisable image of the sitter.
A completed spool of film would be taken to the local chemist to be developed and printed, then several days of excited anticipation would pass before the pictures could be collected, along with their negatives for additional prints if necessary. 
All this was all a far cry from the instant gratification provided by today's digital technology. 
Over the years, snaps accumulated and we children were photographed at various stages in our development: lounging plumply in prams, setting off on our first day to school.
Snaps were treasured and kept, occasionally in family albums, but more often than not in recycled biscuit tins, which were sufficiently capacious to accommodate the monochrome record of our early lives.
The image below, which prompted the following poem, is one of the few pictures I’ve managed to retain of my late parents when they were young. 

It's one of my, and my daughter's, favourites. 



SNAPSHOT

The photograph is monochrome
and although posed, they look at ease,
their hair untroubled by the breeze,
on black rocks by white, surging foam.

They look so young, their faces clear
of doubt, and confident they seem.
Of brighter worlds, perhaps, they dream
than their world, hostile and austere.

A Presbyterian world of grey:
old churches, elders, cold desires;
of tribal wars, anxious cease-fires,
and preachers urging fight or pray.

They sit there waiting to become
whatever life will let them be:
two lovers, young, beside the sea,
bashful, blushing, tongue-tied, dumb.

My parents, years before my birth,
in sensible street-clothes they sit,
their earnest eyes with bright hope lit
and, yes, perhaps a hint of mirth.

As I look back at them from here,
the future, many worlds away
from those young lovers, that fine day
the shutter blinked its unshed tear,

I marvel that, with love alone,
we brave the terrible unknown.



2 comments:

  1. Hi Richard,
    I certainly enjoyed reading your post in its entirety. I enjoyed Snapshot, for me it's a very nice poem from the heart.
    All the best for now. Julian

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Julian. I'm grateful for your comments.

    ReplyDelete