I am neither a world renowned author nor a famous professional photographer. Yet, in the grand scheme of the new digital technology era, I snap thousands of photos and write multiple blurbs . . .each day . . . everyday. Recently, I uploaded three hundred and eighty eight images to my computer from my camera. Three hundred eighty eight photos of nature, of friends, of family . . . of family, friends and nature combined. Yet, only three of those photos did I deem truly interesting. In all likelihood, perhaps only one of them would actually be interesting to anyone other than me, if that.
Likewise, I write in multiple ways multiple times a day. I write way too many pieces of email, and a couple Facebook posts, and a memo or two, and perhaps a reports, or a tweet, and, of course, my absolute, all-time favorite – the numerous doodles combined with shorthand notes jotted down during moments of very deep thought or frankly, jotted down when I am simply daydreaming. Again, of the countless words that I write, few of them are keepers.
I have been fortunate enough to read words and seen pictures that are in the keeper category. I think about the great words that President John F. Kennedy used in his January 20th, 1961 Inaugural Address that challenged us to “[a]sk not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” or Mother Teresa’s “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Words that I have heard or read over and over and over and over again. And again.
I ponder the awe and the wonder of seeing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or visually experiencing the life changing beauty of Claude Monet’s 1897 Water-Lily Pond. How could my mind’s eyes every forget those glorious images. Keepers through and through.
My question today is simply . . . what exactly makes a keeper? Just what are the common threads among the words and images that I have committed to memory, the words and images that I refuse to forget, those that I choose to actively remember?
Though the previous examples are all quite well known to a significant portion of the world, a keeper doesn’t neccessarily have to be so. My keepers include the parentally profound from my dad, “It’s not how much money you make young lady; rather, how much of it you save,” which was reiterrated to me many times as a working teenager bringing home a paycheck that could generally cover all random sixteen year old expenses plus a little fun. Yet, I heard about the importance of being frugal and putting something aside for the long term whenever my pop thought about my payday. A keeper.
Perhaps the most ridiculous as well as the most ridiculously funny keeper I have in my bucket is the phrase uttered by my third son, during a moment of total teenage frustration and to be honest a flash of anger . . . when he told me that “the moment I walked into the room, all fun was sucked right out of it.” It’s just a chuckle and a true keeper. The second it rolled off his lips, all anger evaporated for the statement itself was far too hilarious for either of us to keep a straight face. Keeper.
As far as pictures that are keepers . . . think family. A photo of a new born child. . . a daughter’s wedding . . . a holiday gathering . . . a baseball game . . . a graduation. Without a doubt, each and every photo is kept and cherished. I know that I have a couple that are most memorable and definitely on the A-list of keepers. I happened to take a photo of the aforementioned son, (who kindly told me about the consequences of me entering a room). He was shirtless and wrapped in blinking Christmas lights. He was about twelve and feared nothing. He posed: I snapped. It has become a favorite keeper.
Again, what makes a keeper? How does it happen? If I could so quickly answer this question, I would be that oh so famous photographer and author.
Not all that long ago, my spouse was in a position where he needed to speak before a rather large crowd of friends and colleagues. As I have more often done so throughout my professional career, he asked me for my thoughts on what he should do. I gave it some thought and told him to follow the three Bs: be brief, be brillant, be seated.
Most keepers are fairly brief. They get to the point without too much meandering. They are amazingly uncomplicated and because of their simplicity, they have universal appeal.
All keepers are brilliant. The ordinary and usual doesn’t qualify as a keeper. It is only the shining star, the most unique, the writing and/or images that take our breath away. Sistine Chapel – brilliant! Water-Lily- brilliant. Lasting words and phrases from folks like JFK or Mother Teresa – brilliant.
Finally, creators of keepers know when to be seated. Using the more common vernacular, they don’t beat dead horses. Keepers say what they want and show what they want and move to the side of the stage.
I am on a quest to create a keeper blog, one that somehow adds to the world. Hopefully, I will use my interest in words and photos to do so. My goal is to follow the three Bs and keep all posts under 1000 words (be brief), perhaps with a handful of those words showing some type of promise (be brilliant), and without dilly-dallying around (be seated).
So welcome to 1000 Words – One Picture.