Friday, August 19, 2022

On What's Inside the Frame (Day 231, Year 2)

For World Photography Day (which was today), I interviewed a photographer named Nat Clymer who volunteers for Flashes of Hope, a program that provides photography sessions to children battling cancer. (You can read my piece about Nat and Flashes on the Childhood Cancer Blog, here). 

Interviews are my favorite part of writing; I truly love listening to people's stories and asking questions and learning a perspective entirely different than my own. Each of us have so much wisdom from our life experiences. I love when someone says something that brings clarity to my own life. And I love when I get a talker. Nat did not disappoint. We talked for an hour and a half. He warned me he talked like a sailor (I was raised by one, so no problem there). He asked me at the end if I thought he was a character and of course I did. Aren't we all characters?

One thing Nat spoke about was how photography is always subjective. A photographer chooses what's inside the frame. It made me think about so many things--how people complain about "curated" photos on social media and how these complaints always annoyed me because I certainly curate the images I post--doesn't everyone? And what's wrong with that? As Nat pointed out, a photographer makes a choice about what's in the frame and shouldn't we all make that choice and decide how we want to present ourselves to the world? 

He also inadvertently led me to think about the time Mike, Lily and I spent in PICU at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I have some of my best memories there--and some of my favorite photos of Lily. Even though we were in an awful place, facing scary, horrible, horrible things, Lily was still living her toddlerhood. She learned and grew so much during that month and I did, too. 

I was still a new mother when she was diagnosed without any mothering wisdom or knowledge. I had to figure it all out--both the normal stuff and the cancer stuff. It was hard; but it was also incredible and a gift. We did yoga with Lily as often as she was able--sometimes simple moves in her hospital crib and other times playing on the floor. I remember Sunday evenings with her snuggled on her and Mike and I watching the Next Food Network Star on the hospital TV. I remember the first time she smiled and giggled after brain surgery; we read from her Disney Princess book and she had a brand-new Cinderella baby doll. 

That smile and giggle is a moment I would never, ever wish away. 

There were all the horrible things, too; but as time goes on, I find myself editing those out of the frame. Our stories are subjective, too, and this doesn't make them any less truthful--in fact, I think this makes stories somehow more truthful. The truth is not in the facts, friends, it is the things that remain in our hearts once we've lived through it. 

The photo in this blog, is one of my favorites of Lily. Every last thing about this photo is my first born--her "binny" dangling out of her mouth, while she smiles; that one leg in the air (she was 14 months old and she just wanted to roll and wiggle out of there) and the the way is she looking at me as I took the picture. Lily has joyful eyes and a wicked sense of humor--she always has, even in the PICU. I don't remember what isn't in this frame; but the truth and our story is right there in Lily. 


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