5 Replies to “8.23.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. At first they thought he was just bad with a camera. That he looked at the world squint and looking crooked explained the pictures. They were sharp enough and the light was carefully calculated and the contrast balanced; but it was the composition of Whittaker’s pictures that people thought was off.

    The legs of people being cut off at the knees or the ankles is usual and never a problem in pictures when people look at themselves. But with Whittaker the heads were cropped, too. Sometimes just the mouth was caught, with a smile or a twist or turned down at the corners, or a part of the nose was in shot, and the cheeks, or the ears; never ever the eyes. That’s what people saw and they laughed sometimes at the pictures he took, or were disappointed at what was missing, and the pictures were lost in the backs of drawers, or tucked into the dark between the leaves of books and forgotten.

    But that’s what people thought, and not at all what Whittaker thought. His pictures were perfect and beautiful and everything he saw when he looked through the viewfinder of his camera and everything he was interested in. They were pictures of hands, folded or loose or flapping, and every one of them different and saying something.

    People with a camera pointed at them always put on a smile or they straighten their lips or do something with their eyes so they wear some other face that is not really them. That’s what Whittaker discovered early in his picture-taking days. But he saw that with their hands they were exactly who they are and their hands made natural gestures that were beautiful and spoke and whole stories were in the shapes that they made.

    Seen next to the family snaps and holiday shots, his pictures were imperfect and badly arranged; seen for sale in Bremner’s studio window, neatly mounted and in plain black wood frames with a fancy four figure price tag, they were art, and gradually people came to see that and to value the work that he did. And they emptied their drawers and flicked through the pages of old books looking for their own hands caught in a still black and white moment – not because they had an eye on the money that could be made from selling an early Whittaker, but wanting to see again what they had laughed at and to now understand what the picture might be telling them.

  2. I love this story Lindsay! Years ago my sister sent me a picture of five pair of female hands in a circular setting. From an infant’s tiny pudgy brand new patties to the well veined, perhaps arthritic hands of an elderly woman – all ages and stages of life. And it made we in awe of our hands and all they do in any single day, capable of such love and creativity. Thank you for this story.

  3. Susan, I love that ‘love’ in your comment… I liked the idea in this story so much… I think hands are so important.

    And thanks to you Patty, for continuing to read all these scribblins!

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