Every Image is Precious
In the past two years, both of my grandmothers passed away. I have reminders: two photographs perched on the center of my bookshelf. Believe it or not, no matter how many times they came to visit, and no matter how many photographs we snapped together, these are the only two I have in my apartment. I plan to hold onto these.
A handful of years before my grandma Debbie died, I was lucky enough to conduct a biographical interview with her on camera when she visited D.C. from London. At the time, this was only a trial for a small business idea my dad had, but in years since it has developed into something far more important. It’s a link with her, a way to connect her history with mine, a way to keep her memory vivid and alive for future generations.
With the advent of digital photography, it’s easy to trivialize the image. There are so many possibilities, so many opportunities to capture someone’s memory. The portrait studio is a thing of the past. Why bother when you have a digital camera and a tripod? But instead of an uptick in quality, I think the opposite happened. In fact, the possibility of infinite takes made directors lazy—even in the final cut. From what I know of classics past, there were fewer distractions, fewer chances to get a shot wrong, and fewer ways to fix an emotion in post.
If you can, take a step back from your camera today and look at your subject. Ask yourself: why is this important? Is this the best way to shoot? Is the lighting just right? Imagine for a moment you are an old-timey photographer stepping behind a bulky curtain about to press a button and save an image for a lifetime or longer. I have no good screenwriting advice. I have no good directing advice. All or any advice I do have is to treat every image as precious. There is everything, and nothing else, to know.