Pictures and Words

I know what I love about pictures. They don't require words.

"But you're a writer," you say.

True. But even that is me not wanting to speak vocally. I'd rather text people than call them. I'd rather they text back and not call me. I hate long explanations. I'd rather you were ignorant of what it is than to have to explain it. And take social networks, I've jokingly said, "If it has more than seven words, I don't read it." Recently, I extended that to, "If it has more than seven steps, I don't attempt it."

I am a very simple person. In my writing, whether nonfiction or fiction, I find it hard to extend a thought. Your typical novel is around 80,000 words. Mine tend to end at 20,000. I like short and concise and to the point. I hate rambling. Just tell me what happened and move on.

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Back to pictures.

Pictures are full of words. As the old saying goes, thousands of them. But they are silent. They are words which form in your mind that don't require anything of you but to meditate on them, to soak them in. They are enjoyment, pure and simple. They don't ask me questions or want to tell me a story or need to relate the facts of their day. They don't interrupt what I'm doing with mindless information I feel I could do without. They're not opinionated. They don't take sides on issues. Though they do see the issues, they're unbiased. They tell it exactly like it is. It's us, the humans, that get their message unclear.

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They generate emotion, make us happy or sad, angry, peaceful. They give information. We learn things from them. They preserve memories, reminding us of what we've lost, how things used to be, of those we loved before. When looking at a photograph, I can go other places, travel without leaving my chair. Appealing, to an introvert like me. Most importantly, I can forget where I'm at, what I'm doing, the pressures of the day - the fight I had with my boss, children, spouse, dog - and simply "be" somewhere. In that way, photographs bring healing. 

They also become my voice. I can say what I need to without speaking at all, and though generating many mental words, those are left up to you to hear. They're the ocean, swishing in and out on the sand, your lover's hand clasped tight, their voice speaking in your ear. They're ducks, wings spread, water spraying from their feet, flying off the surface of a mountain lake. They're thick traffic in a large city, the night creeping in, the blink and flash of signs and headlights bright in your vision. They're sight and sound and perception placed once before me, not talking, but saying things loudly without asking me to do anything at all.

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Devil's Millhopper, Gainesville, Florida

That makes my lens a powerful device, my shutter a teleport to another world, my computer screen and editing software, my hand extended to you and him and her to see what I see, to join in with this moment of silence and step away from the hustle and bustle. To see the stars in the sky over craggy mountain peaks. Or a dish of the finest dessert set on a table for two. Or the blend of pastel colors at sunrise, washing the earth clean again for another hour of another day.

And all I have to do is stare, contemplate, and listen. I like that.



Other Articles on Steve's Digicams by the Same Author:

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Suzanne Williams Blog

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography. 

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