There is magic in photographs, magic that preserves a moment in time when everything was good and we looked our best, or at least like we were having fun. It was a different time when photographs were not digitized and perfected by technology but an art perfected by someone who enjoyed the magic of silver and time and knew how to colorize a photograph to give it life. Photography was the transition period between portraits painted by masters and talented artists that imbued color, canvas, light, and technique with life and a sense of the soul to posed photographs of the 1950s to the 1980s when art was still a part of the process and finally to now when digital images show the imperfection and asymmetry inherent in the human face. I prefer the posed portraits where people dressed in their best, did their hair just so, and smiled for the camera.
The photograph is colorized (painted) and was of my aunt and uncle when they were young, in love, and smiling for the camera. My uncle's mustache was the rakishly trimmed frame for a mouth that smiled easily. He wore his air force uniform with pride and a little bit of his own style. My aunt looked like Loretta Young with her tumbled raven locks and her smile innocently seductive. This is a smaller version of the portrait that hung in their living room for all the years of my youth, eventually replaced by a larger portrait of my aunt, my uncle's anniversary gift to the love of his life.
I imagine their excitement, barely contained, as they posed for the camera sitting close together, she nestled against him comfortably without seeming posed. My uncle's inherent mischief is evident in his smile, something about the way his dimples crease just a bit, and I imagine him fingering his pencil thin mustache just before the photographer poses him. Yes, I see the soul of the imp in his eyes and dancing along the curve of his lips, the young man who wasn't above putting limburger cheese in his uncle's heating vents to show his displeasure for being left behind.
My aunt looks a bit mysterious behind the innocence, an unknown quantity that remains a shade beyond open. She is the woman of crafts and arts who turns junk yard and second hand shop detritus into stunning pieces fit for the Sun King's salon. She sees possibilities in the most worthless piece of someone else's trash and releases the beauty and grace beneath the dirt and neglect. She's that way with people and old houses.
Captured by the photographer long ago, their pose mirrors the closeness of their souls and the enduring quality of their relationship, full of hope with their eyes firmly fixed on a bright future. The promise of their youth has not faded with the years and my aunt and uncle remain a close match in temperament, ability, and spirit. The camera does not lie and the photographer's art remains a portrait of innocence, mischief, and dreams.