Bestefar, aka It runs in the family
I wasn’t going to do a blog for Thursday or Friday this week, mostly because I’m swamped (almost 13 hours at work yesterday — whee!) and exhausted. But something that my friend and coworker Kim wrote on her blog got me thinking, and then when I called my dad last night to wish him a happy birthday, we got to talking about cameras and photography, and it made me think of the following picture.
If you didn’t click on the link for Kim’s blog, basically she talked about blogging as a form of communication — how she’s a social person, and she is energized by the interaction, dialogue, and support.
Now don’t get me wrong — I love your comments and Facebook “likes”. I fully admit to getting a little charge out of the email notifications I get to approve new comments (well, except with this post, where I got a number of angry comments that I never let past the comment screening/approval process, and which had me actually dreading the comment notification for a couple of days) and I love hearing what y’all have to say about my pictures.
But I’m not an astoundingly social person. I try, but it’s not something that comes easy for me. I’m more comfortable behind a lens or behind a screen, and one of the things I love about volunteering is that it gives me a reason to interact with people, so that I don’t feel so awkward about just being somewhere without any specific larger purpose in mind.
I guess it’s the same with photography, really. By photographing things and people, I get to choose how I interact with them, or I can choose to not interact at all, and just observe.
So the idea of communication isn’t a driving one behind what I post. Or, at least, not in the sense that I’m aiming for dialogue or support. For me it’s more of a passive communication. A lot of what swirls around in my head is isolated words and images — I didn’t realize just how much of what was in my head is actually images rather than words until I started taking pictures about two and a half years ago.
If I can take a picture/write a post that someone connects with in some way, well, that’s what I’m aiming for. Something that you look at and it makes you smile, or makes you sad, or wistful, or pensive, or even angry. If I can get you to look at something and go, “Wow, that’s really beautiful,” or, “Wow, I never saw that in that way before,” well, that’s what I want.
Whether it’s telling a story of an event (like my posts Monday and Tuesday) or a single image frozen in time (my Wordless Wednesday yesterday) or just pictures focusing in on the detail in something (like this post about dew on dead grass), if I can get someone to pause to look a bit longer at a picture, well then, that’s what I wanted.
Even if you never tell me about it by clicking on that comment link (although, like I said, that’s definitely sooooo appreciated.) :-)
Changing gears just a bit now… back to my dad, cameras, and the following picture.
Both my dad and my grandpa (my mom’s dad) are/were into photography… “Are” in my dad’s case since he’s still (thankfully) around, and “were” in my grandpa’s case since he’s been gone for… wow, over a decade now. So I guess that me being behind a lens runs in the family, if such things can.
This past Christmas, my dad had some slide film and negatives of old pictures scanned and put onto a CD, and that’s what he gave the three of us kids for Christmas.
I loved it. I freaking love it. I’d say 80-90% of those pictures are ones I’d never seen before, for some reason, and going through the CD was an absolute trip. There are the usual dated snapshots, of course, but mixed in with them are some pictures of amazing quality and vividness, where it’s apparent that they were taken with a higher quality of lens and camera.
Talking with my dad tonight about these pictures actually kind of made me worry. I mean, those pictures date back between about 25 and 40 years. 25 years ago, there was no such thing as Photoshop. The concept of a digital camera hardly existed, and the *.jpg file format hadn’t even been invented.
So where are all of my digital images going to be in 25, 30, 40 years? Should I be printing these? What about my blog — where will the words go? I’ve looked into services like Blog2Print, which can take a blog and make a book, but alas, they don’t play nice with WordPress (my blogging platform.) For one, Blog2Print doesn’t recognize picture captions… Really? REALLY!?!? :facepalm:
So who knows. It’s something I think about… I’ve invested too much of my time, myself, and my heart into all of this to let it become obsolete.
But here’s where it started, folks — my bestefar, the man with a camera. He had so much more technical knowledge of photography than I’ll ever have… and how he would have loved the digital revolution. He would have loved computers. He would have been an avid blogger. He would have been the quintessential computer nerd.
He came here from Norway at the eve of World War II (“bestefar” is the Norwegian word for grandpa), learned English, married and raised a family, and pursued his passions of photography, travel, and the general acquisition of knowledge. Hmmm, those sound a lot like me. Only he was far more patient than I’ll ever be.
He’s been gone for over 12 years, but it doesn’t seem that long…
I wish I could talk photography with him. Wish I could show him what I’ve done, and what I’m doing.
When I was in high school and won a trip to Singapore and Malaysia, he was so excited for me that he gave me a small travel journal. I unfortunately have never been good at written journals, but I still have that small notebook somewhere, because I remember his enthusiasm about my trip, and how he pushed me to write and take pictures so that I wouldn’t forget.
I have those pictures in a scrapbook, and I have memories, and it was that trip that instilled in me my restless, itchy-foot yen to travel. But I think that’s in my blood too — the trip just woke it up.
And two months from now, I’ll be just getting back to work after coming home from another trip to Singapore and Malaysia, this time for Joel! and Ting’s wedding. I can’t wait to get on that plane — I really can’t.
So I guess I also blog to remember… so that I have something to go back and look at. I write and take pictures, so that I won’t forget what I saw and how I felt about it.
I can’t tell you how many times this past summer on my trip I wanted to send my mom’s parents postcards. I feel like that a lot when I travel, because they loved to travel, and I wish I could have shared travel stories with them and listened to more of theirs.
When I was going through the CD of pictures from my dad, I came upon the following picture, and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I’d never seen it before (I was about two years old when it was taken) and there was just something so strange about seeing him younger than I remember him, and seeing my mom’s face in him, and seeing that camera and that big old lens.
This post is for you, Bestefar. Thank you. I miss you. And sorry Mom, because I know you’re probably in tears right now. I am too though — don’t worry. Good ones. :-)