Subjectivity and emotion

 

Looking at photos is always a subjective activity. An image can inspire any number of emotions in the photographer – feelings of a moment, a conversation, or a memory, to name just a few. However, this does not concern the viewer. For him or her, the photo is just a picture on the wall or an image on the screen. That’s just how it is; it inspires you or it doesn’t. As a photographer, I know that only too well. Even so, I do want to include my emotion about this photo, my memory of the event, in this Twirly Thought.

 

She wanted to miss as little as possible

After a four-year battle with ovarian cancer, my wife, Margareth died in February 2009. Before this, she expressed a wish to go to Paris once more. We’d been there quite often and greatly enjoyed the cultural life of this beautiful city. So in December, 2008, eight weeks before her death, we went there and booked into a hotel for three days. Her strength was almost gone, but not her determination. My brother and sister-in-law came with us and drove the car – first off, to the hotel to get some rest. But then Margareth wanted to go into Paris; she wanted to miss as little as possible and get as much out of it as she could..

 

The trip represented a double farewell..

For us, the trip represented a double farewell – from both each other and the things we loved to share. I had my camera with me, but actually only used it twice in those three days. The first picture was taken at Sacré-Coeur. Margareth walked determinedly up the stairs to the basilica while I, with my rheumatism, had to take the lift. Once we were in the basilica, we lit a candle together. I asked her if she would mind if I captured this emotional moment. She had no objection at all. As I wrote in my book, Timeless, she was very creative herself, and felt these things. She was my sounding board as far as my images were concerned. She was often exactly right.

 

Then you’ll have a good one to take home

On entering one of those typical Paris street cafés, she saw this man sitting there writing. His fingers, crippled with rheumatism, seemed to glide at a snail’s pace over the page. “Take one of him,” she said, “over there in the corner. Then you’ll have a good one to take home.” After some gesturing to the man, I was allowed to take the photo. The lunch took most of the afternoon. Margareth felt some fun was needed too. And that’s what we had… This then is the story behind the photo – just as I tend to write them but this time it’s about a picture that touches me personally in more ways than one. I’m quite an open person, which often makes me vulnerable, but I wanted to put the story behind this picture in writing – as a fond memory.