Picture if you will, an old wrinkly face. An old wrinkly face with character, meaning, perhaps wisdom. Is it a man or a woman, or can you tell? Are those wrinkles from a long life of smiles and laughter or grief and sorrow, or can you tell? Are they from happiness, fear, anger, worry, or hard labor in the hot sun? What do you picture? You can add a hat or some jewellery, spectacles, maybe a toothpick or cigarette, and what about the hair? Imagine.
I’ve seen some of those old folks, venerable and otherwise, but haven’t taken very many of their images. Mostly its a combination of embarrassment and respect, but it’s also laziness, being cheap (as in offering them money), and fretting over capturing a sensational shot, some profound truth, or sometimes a great notion.You know what I mean? You’ve seen those wonderful photos in National Geographic, museums, and the like.
And there might be a resplendent background, some meaningful context, added odd details, and perhaps you can tell their ethnicity, circumstances, or cultural heritage. After a long, perhaps hard, tragic, joyful life they might still be working, swinging a tool, carrying a load. Or maybe they’re with children, having fun, or showing some emotion, or juxtaposed with some newfangled contraption. Best of all, there’s a story there, captured in that moment, the narrative image that tells an epic in an instant.
So, pretend this post has those pix. The old woman in Nepal with the huge load of sticks strapped to her head. Or the little old man with his little old Nepali hat surveying the street. Or the wizened and possibly wise old ladies in Italy or India dressed up in their finest. Or the geriatric gents in Germany, the guy in the pajamas here in Vietnam, all scrutinizing their changing world. Wow. You captured that! You saw that image! You heard tell that tale of generations, hardship, joy, and maybe the meaning of life – or at least that one life.
To paraphrase Einstein, your imagination is more important than knowledge of photos.