Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snapshots From the Brink

All this yammering about airport security scans has reminded me how much we owe to the art and science of photography.

Thank GOODNESS for
photography! It is an historical record, a proof statement of what actually happened or what something or someone actually looked like. How would we know if an artist had filtered the image of their subject? 'Improved' it, perhaps, or altered reality to better suit the artist's sensibility. But with a photograph... there's the photograph, there it is, look at it! It will tell you a story if you know which questions to ask. And beside the historical and scientific uses, a good photo is a genealogist's treasure! Tips and leads can pop out of every corner.

Remarkably, photography has been around less that 200 years. Imagine if there were honest-to-goodness images of (insert chosen historical character here). I had always pictured (whomever) as blonde, or taller, or more dignified. Why, such facts could change the course of history. But that is not to be because the earliest known photograph is an eight hour exposure out the window of the Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. It may not be stirring, but that's what it looked like in 1826. Napoleon had only been dead for five years. Thomas Jefferson was still alive. And Abraham Lincoln was seventeen years old!

Now, Lincoln!
Lincoln, we've got! We have lots of photos of Lincoln. You couldn't CAST a better face to emote dignity and courage and honesty and forthrightness. Stephen Spielberg has been agonizing over casting Lincoln for more than ten years and everyone had thought he had settled on Liam Neeson, but NO, it's going to be Daniel Day Lewis!

Spielberg and Long Carbine! Now there's a movie I would go to see. Bill the Butcher is already in Illinois, scoping out history on Lincoln, probably immersing himself as he always does, building himself a log cabin. I can't wait to hear his chosen accent.

That does it, I've been toying with the idea of getting a bust of Lincoln for my office, I'd better hurry up and order it before Daniel Plainview orders them all for his research. I feel close to Lincoln, he married one of my relatives. Yes, he had failings, too.

Speaking of the things you learn from genealogically-oriented photos, check out this one of me when I was three years old. There's a lot to learn here. We were living in Miami and we were 'poor', shoes were still a few years away. But beside the idiotic grin on my face, check out my hands. Are they deformed? They appear larger than my feet, were they run over by a car or something? Are they flat? Perhaps that's a grimace on my face and not a grin.

Love the 'lawn', by the way, but that's my original premise coming back to visit. The lawn (and my fingers) look the way they do in the photograph because that's the way they actually looked.

Nowadays, I suppose I could use some fancy tools and cover up that patch in my overalls (hmm, I should GET some overalls, they look pretty comfy)
or put some shoes on my feet or make my hands look normal. But, nah! I wasn't normal then and that's the way I'm staying.


Leah Kleylein said...

so now I picture Lincoln with the heavy Bill the Butcher accent!! Can't wait!!

Dave said...

These days people actually buy clothes that look like the picture here. You were ahead of your time.