Sunday, August 26, 2007
My late grandfather was a keen hobbyist photographer. He travelled widely around the world for his business and documented the places he visited. In the 50s and 60s, he travelled to Asia and Europe as well as around Africa. He lived in South Africa and spent many weekends photographing in the game reserves. He had a Nikon camera and a huge zoom lens which he would prop on the opened window of his car and take extraordinary pictures of the giraffes, lions, wildebeest, and other indigenous animals. He also travelled to villages and took pictures. I think the amazing "Dread God" photograph (above) was taken in Speakers'Corner in London.
I believe this striking picture of an African woman was taken somewhere in South Africa. She seems utterly present in the centre of her life.
The last photograph is a portrait of my parents, my brother, and me taken when we lived in Northern Ireland. My parents were in their mid to late twenties in this picture. They also seem in the centre of their life, in the centre of this sunny spring day. They look so young and fresh faced, ready for anything in their future. Looking at pictures of myself and my own kids, I get a baffling array of contradictory and complex feelings. Of course, looking at yourself is obviously more complex. You are living inside the photo, not just looking in. You know all the complexity of feeling that surrounds the instant of the snap. (I'm reminded of a physical example of this: my author photo of my first book Cruelty to Fabulous Animals. My wife took a picture of me standing on Paradise St. Just below the visible photograph, my two sons were running about like tiny maniacs while I tried to look authorly appearing as if my mind were focussed on literary pursuits, rather than hoping my boys wouldn't kill each other or run in to traffic.)