Monday, May 30, 2016

Exploring meaning beyond the photo

Chronicle Herald - May 30, 2016
I'm very excited...my "In Focus" article made the leap this week from the weekly publication of The South Shore Breaker to the provincial daily paper - the Nova Scotian section of today's Chronicle Herald. I'm not sure whether it will be reprinted in the June 1st edition of the South Shore Breaker or not. Here is the article:
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We all see thousands of images each and every day. Its hard to go anywhere without seeing someone taking a picture with their phone. Just think about all the ads you see on television, in print, and online. Now think about how many of those images you actually remember. Many of the photographs are technically perfect, yet are completely forgettable. How many of those photos actually tell a story?

I know a woman who is a wonderful story teller and she tells her stories with photographs. Her journey as a photographer started just a few short years ago. She returned from a trip to the Grand Canyon and didn
t have a single image she was happy with. Here photos were "Just a bunch of holes in the dirt", as she puts it. She signed up for an eight week photography course through the Parks and Recreation Department, and then joined the Bridgewater Photo Club. I was a member at the club when she joined, and I have seen her progress from a picture taker to become a story teller. Her name is Karen Parnell Herrick.

Sometimes it takes work for Karen to create her magic. She has to remind herself to move. Get closer, get up, get down. Every angle gives a different perspective and tells a different story. She is a stickler for details in life, and that shines through in her images. One of the images that sticks in my mind is called "Daily Devotion". These are the hands of a ninety three year old client of Karen
s. Karen is a hairstylist and has watched these hands change their appearance over the years. Arthritis has struck Winnie, but she never complains. One day, Karen spent a few hours at Winnies home taking many portraits of her and the embroidery that she is so proud of.

But Karen had an image in her mind, and she worked at creating it. She asked Winnie if she could photograph her hands. "Oh, these old things" Winnie replied, but she agreed. Karen
s favourite photo from the morning is of Winnies hands resting on a bible. The image gives Karen memories of a wonderful morning with the aroma of chicken soup simmering on the wood stove and fresh baked bread cooling on the sideboard. Laughter and good companionship. And even though the photograph is a simple pair of hands, the image tells me a story of a womans lifetime, a woman whose spirit is given comfort through her faith.
Daily Devotion by Karen Parnell Herrick
Another pair of hands tells a different story. These are hands of a working man. I see hard work. I see determination. I see strength, fortitude and resilience. All in a pair of hands.
Digits Detailed by Karen Parnell Herrick
Karens hand portraits bring words from a song co-written by Dave Gunning and George Canyon to my mind:
What shall I do with these hands of mine?
The world can use a hero of the human kind
Tell me, What shall I do with these hands of mine?
I wanna sing it from my heart
I wanna hear it in the wind

Til it blows around the earth and comes back again
And all that we can ask is for ours to be free
To use them when we want, for whatever the need.


Karen
s learning journey has led to her receiving the coveted "Photographer of the Year" Trophy at the Bridgewater Photo Club two years in a row. Her plan is to explore different genres of photography and she wants to become a better landscape and seascape photographer.

I
ve seen what she can do with a pair of hands. It boggles my mind to think about what shell do with her focus on the beautiful scenery of our South Shore!

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