“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
This blog has a simple mandate – to share my photos and random thoughts as they come to me during the day. My camera is a Canon SX 240 HS with a zoom lens 20X. I confess that most of the time it is set on automatic so that if I see something, I simply “point and click.” Over the past few years, I have gained a greater appreciation for photography and those professionals who master the techniques and innovative technologies being developed in rapid succession.
These past four weeks have reaffirmed that photos are a record of the lives we live, a cultural reflection of our time in history. They form the collection of memories of our generation – fashion, food, architecture, transportation, work conventions and family structures. We owe a great deal to the photographers of the past. They didn’t have our digital cameras and they worked with harsh chemicals, yet their photos are a testament to their commitment to witness and record history.
In my recent travels, I embraced mobility via the iPhone. Initially, I thought it would be a good back-up, just in case my digital battery expired or I ran out of space on my SDHC Card, both of which happened. My ‘back-up’ launched my “point and click” methodology into a new realm where communication merged with photography. And this is when I had my “ah ha” moment. We intellectually understand that mobile allows multiple stories to be shared, exchanged, amplified and integrated within seconds, across a global world. It is quite another matter to experience it first hand as an active participant.
Robert Frank once said, “Above all, life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.” Our ability to take countless photos does not diminish our responsibility for telling our story, for taking our place as a witness to our history.
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
“Water seeks its own level. Look at them. The Tigris, the Euphrates, the Mississippi, the Amazon, the Yangtze. The world’s great rivers. And every one of them finds its way to the ocean.”
Alison McGhee, All Rivers Flow To The Sea
I found my way to the ocean, just as Vikings did many centuries ago. Swansea, a coastal city and county in Wales, was once a thriving Viking trading post. It is positioned on the sandy South West Wales coast. Some believe that Swansea’s name came from the Old Norse, Sveinsey, signifying a bank at the mouth of the river Tawe.
It was the start of our journey organized by our son, which we named our “Industrial Revolution” tour that covered Wales and the Midlands of England. For seventeen days, we were on the go from morning to night without respite. One day, we clocked six hours of walking. We visited cotton mills, travelled on steam trains, plumbed the depths of a coal mine and saw the Newcomen engine at work.
The Industrial Revolution was an extraordinary time of growth and prosperity. It was a pivotal point in history; the dramatic shift from hand production and cottage industry to machines and manufacturing efficiency. It will come as no surprise that rivers played a fundamental role during this time. Progress was enormous, but it came at a cost.
Have you ever noticed that when you go away and then come back, you are never in the same position as you were when you first started out? New thoughts, experiences, ideas challenge our closely held values. So we really can’t go back to where we were…at the beginning.
Somehow that gives me great comfort.
“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”
“Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors.” Alice Walker
Alice Walker, born February 9, 1944, is an American author, poet and activist best known for her critically acclaimed novel, “The Color Purple.” It is not unusual for Americans to consider tea an English drink. In fact, Great Britain had a great deal to do with the spread of tea throughout the globe via international trade. But for the Portuguese, the British may never have been introduced to the exotic brew. The year was 1662 when Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King Juan IV of Portugal and soon to be wife of King Charles II, sailed into Portsmouth harbour. Hidden in her dowry, was a chest of tea. Catherine was a tea addict. It wouldn’t be long before all of England would share her obsession. Tea was first served at court to ripple across fashionable society before finally trickling down to the middle classes. And then came the taxes but that is another story…