Sunday, May 16, 2010

" . . . e vidi le sue luci tanto mere"

Today I created a new photoset on Flickr, devoted to pictures which received a great deal of very favorable attention but, for reasons unknown, failed to make the Explore page. Thus far I have included ten images in the set, and will probably not add any more from my collection as it currently exists. When I created the set, this, which is surely my most successful photograph so far in 2010, was among those I had in mind. It was taken about three months ago, during Hamilton High School's stage production of "Guys and Dolls."

The girl in the photograph is a senior named Kaitlin Booth, whom I had never even seen until that Saturday afternoon, when I attended the matinee performance. I like the photo for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because it represents one of my success stories, and serves as a reminder that in spite of all the failure and disappointment I have experienced in my life, perhaps I have not lived in vain after all. Sometime in the near future I plan to order a print of this one from Mpix, then frame it and put it on display in my office, where it will join the other portraits and ballroom dance photos that comprise much of my decor.

A few days after I posted this unposed portrait on Flickr, I learned that Kaitlin had seen it there and been moved to tears, because, in her words, I had succeeded in capturing what she had tried to accomplish every time she made an appearance on the stage. Two of the comments on this photograph are from Kaitlin's mother, who suggested that it would now become a family heirloom. Unbeknown to either of them at the time, a short time later I took steps to make that possible, by ordering several Mpix prints of the image and having them delivered to Kaitlin by a mutual friend. I was later told that Kaitlin had blinked back tears once again when she saw the prints; that her mother had wanted to replace Kaitlin's senior portrait, which was prominently displayed in their hallway, with this one; and that they eventually decided that both portraits should be displayed together.

We never know what kind of impact our actions, even the seemingly minor ones, might have on others. I have loved this picture from the moment I first saw it on my camera's LCD screen, but I had no idea then that it would come to mean so much to its subject and her family. All I did, after all, was to aim my camera and push the shutter button. But the reverse of that is also true, and surely Kaitlin has never realized how she has blessed my own life, in this case by simply being herself. If, as Paul says, God loves a cheerful giver, then surely He loves a cheerful receiver as well.

So while this spur-of-the-moment portrait failed to make Flickr's Explore page, it has, in another and much better sense, become one for the ages, at least insofar as her world and mine are concerned. And I wonder, too, if it is any coincidence that Kaitlin also happens to be a Latter-day Saint.

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