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My best photo--Impermanence
  • Impermanence

I'm not a photographer with a "fancy" camera. While I learned to love shooting film a long time ago in journalism school with a borrowed 35 millimeter SLR, the last few years have seen me celebrate the joy of shooting with a digital camera. And my specifications for a digital camera are only two: it has to be easy for me to figure out what buttons to push, and it has to be tiny enough to fit in the back pocket of my jeans as I'm walking around. I almost never go out hunting for things to take pictures of, but from time to time a spellbinding shot will come up and if I've got my camera along, great! If not, I'll be gnashing my teeth for days over "the one that got away."

I took the picture above, "Impermanence," when I was was visiting the Grand Canyon with my older son right before he left for college.  I've taken a trip like this with each of my four kids before they officially left the nest, just because, darn it, it's important to take the time to make one more great set of memories.  Of course I had my digital camera in my pocket.  We traveled over hill and dale, down the Bright Angel Trail of the Grand Canyon and up into the red rock canyons near Sedona and into long-abandoned Indian pueblos at Walnut Canyon National Monument.  And in one fleeting instant as we stood at some overlook at the Grand Canyon I realized that our shadows and those of everyone standing at the overlook were cast on to a nearby outcrop. And that while we would soon be moving on, the rocks would be there for thousands more years. It seemed like the perfect visual metaphor for our time in this world. I'm so glad I had that camera in my pocket at that exact moment!

Mary T. Wagner is the author of the award-winning essay collections "Running with Stilettos," "Heck on Heels," and "Fabulous in Flats." Fabulous... which was just published in May, 2011, was recently named published "Book of the Year" by the Florida Writers Association. 

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This is wonderfully captured one, Mary.

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Made me realize...


When I saw your photo, I thought, "eh, a photo of shadows."  But then I read your blog and you are so RIGHT!  We as people keep moving along, and things like that rock will be there long after we are gone.  It made me think of my family and the places we traveled to over the years, and the shadows that get captured in some pictures.  I no longer think of them as a nuisance, but as a reminder of being in that moment together. 

It is wonderful that you make time for your children as they go away to college.  I also agree, the camera has to fit in my pocket!