I guess it comes with the territory being a photographer but I often get asked the question “what is your favorite photo?”. Aside from making a smart-ass remark along the lines of “Do you have a favorite child?”, I really don’t know how to answer that question. I get frustrated because I don’t have an answer to that question, so I normally just deflect and say “oh that’s a tough one, I don’t know” which is the true and I really don’t know which is my favorite.
I suppose I should turn that question around and ask you? What is your favorite photo? Do you even have a favorite or are there multitudes of favorites? Would you categorize them by genre and medium? Would it be an abstract photo that you interpret a certain way? Or do you, like me, not really know?
Recently, I believe I took a photo that is one of my favorites. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and the real story is the back story of that photo. The timing, the mood, the environment, the human condition, etc. It's always the story behind the photo that makes it one of our favorites, whether it's because it reminds you of good memories, a crazy situation, or something else. Photography is an example way to draw people into the story, using an image as a framework to tell the story behind it is what makes photography so interesting. The ability for a photograph to give you a glimpse into the life of the person who took it is what is fascinating, images can standalone as amazing, beautiful, and more but when connected to a story that's when it becomes truly memorable.
Probably not what you thought it was going to be huh? I mean there is a landscape in the photo, Mt. Blanca is over there to the right but it’s not that interesting. Who are those five guys standing there?
Those men are my brothers, I lived with them back in college for at least two years and they are some of my closest friends. We have done so much together, I mean even this photo was an adventure. We had just gotten done skiing at Wolf Creek Ski Area in southern Colorado and we had just begun the trip back to Colorado Springs and then three of us would go on to Boulder.
24 hours before this photo was taken, most of us hadn’t left work yet. It was such a quick trip and the conditions were less than ideal, but I couldn’t have asked for a better day with my friends. By the way, that’s me on the left. This was also the last picture of all five of us were together in the same spot, three of them are now married, and two moved to states that are far away from Colorado. Brad welcomed his first child into the world with his wife last year and now catching up with him is completely different. This picture also represents a moment in time before everything changed, mostly for the good too. That's the unique ability of a photograph, it tells the story of what lead up to that moment in time. The culmination of everything that has transpired with the unknown of what is next.
Another one of my favorite photos isn't a terribly sound or even good photo, it's another black and white picture taken at my family's cabin that I write about frequently. It was May 2010 and I went down to the cabin before it was opened for the season, I wanted to see what it looked like before anyone had been there. You see, less than two months before, my uncle and his best friend had died there at the cabin while attempting to shovel snow off the roof. It's believed that the warm weather had melted some of the snow, then the cold temperatures that day made the 3ft. of snow on the roof highly unstable. My uncle and his best friend were caught when the snow slid off the roof and killed them both. It was a tragic and unforeseeable incident that no one could have predicted, two friends going up to the mountains to accomplish a task but also to spend time together.
When I arrived I saw a scene that was virtually untouched since that day and I wanted to document what I could so I'd always remember my uncle Ray. I don't view this picture as one of my "favorites" because it's fun to look at, it's a good picture, or anything else. It's one of my favorites because I shared a connection with my uncle, the cabin was one of his favorite places and wrote about it frequently in the journal at the cabin. He'd give an update about how the potato crop was doing, what the weather was like, and how the Rio Grande River looked for fishing in addition to what activities he was up to at the cabin.
Those are two of my favorite photos for very different reasons but what I'm realizing more and more is that pretty photos are fun to look at but it's the story behind the picture that's always more interesting. One of my goals for the upcoming year with photography is to get better at storytelling with my images that I create. I'll admit, I don't really have much of an idea of how to do this because my default is to take pretty photos of landscapes without people. Funny thing is that, with rare exception, people make the photo more interesting.
What's your favorite photo and what's the story behind it?