Friday, October 12, 2007

Grandma Misery

Reading over people's writing and neatly placing it online with visual accompaniments affords me a look into the lives of others. Sure, just by virtue of these writers having documented a meeting or a conversation, I get to experience it secondhand and moments before the loyal readership does. But every now and then, these small articles manage to escape the limits of mere reporting and offer a moment — in the writers' lives or somebody else's — that strikes me as honest, regardless of whether the way it's described comes off as objective or subjective. To paraphrase Joan Didion, it's how they remember it, and that in itself carries a certain weight.

A while back I put online a column by a writer who now covers Goleta goings-on for us. The text itself read fairly straightforwardly, but the writer included one photo that I found somehow moving. Even being an un-doctored photograph, it's still what the writer/photographer saw and what she thought important, and she composed it to reflect her experience of this moment.

What you see above is no great feat of photography. It's a snapshot, really, taken by the kind of Average Joe With a Camera that generates most of the photography we see online, my own included. However, I see something in this photo that makes me want to stare at it. Maybe I'm intrigued by the contrasting greens of the marshy brush and the woman's sweater. Maybe I like how her head rests just below the horizon line. And maybe I'm drawn to the fact that the whole image — the greens and yellow expanding out beneath the sky, the woman's age, and her facial expression — remind me just a little of an Andrew Wyeth painting.

In the wonderful way, there's something in this image I can't put my finger on and can't take my eyes off.

[ link: another time when Andrew Wyeth seemed important ]


  1. I like the sunflowers over her shoulder.

  2. Thanks for posting... I'm a former Goletian/Santa Barbarian and I miss "my mountains." The ones the photographer so artfully chose not to obscure with the cute little Gramma's head!