I’ve not been a big Instagram user. I’m not really the selfie type. However, I have discovered that there are many photo essay projects that take place on Instagram. The idea is that you write a short essay with the photo you post. It’s similar to ekphrastic poetry:
An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning. (via)
The concept of my project is about my mom, with an emphasis on aging, caregiving, and some biography. Instagram has a character limit (2200), so it’s necessarily short, and a good way to challenge yourself to write briefly while still getting your point across in the best way possible. (There will be old photos, along with new photos — I’m interested in documenting her aging process).
This is the first post:
This is my favorite photo of my mom, Mary. My mom doesn't like having her photo taken — she often isn't smiling, or has one of those awkward "cheese" smiles. This photo was taken in August 2010, almost one year after she had heart-valve replacement surgery. In this photo, she's about two months away from her 87th birthday. On this particular day, I had taken mom to see her primary care doctor, for a checkup. At the time, I was carrying my small Canon Powershot camera in my pocket (it took much better photos than the phone I had at the time). We had been taken back to one of the examining rooms, and we were sitting across from each other: I in one of the chairs and mom in the wheelchair we bought after her surgery when she was having so much trouble getting around. As we were sitting there, waiting for the doctor to come in, mom was in a rather reflective mood. She was telling me stories of various events in the past. They were all stories I'd heard many times before, but I've always enjoyed listening to stories. Taking her photo was an impulsive act. Office lighting is not known for being flattering, but there was something about the light in the room, the color of the wall, and the pink of mom's jacket that really caught my eye. And, she looked so relaxed and comfortable. The recovery from the heart surgery had been very long and more difficult than we'd expected. Sitting there in the doctor's office, she looked healthier and more like herself. I took my camera out, and fidgeted with it. I didn't want her to know I was going to take a snapshot. It's always best to catch her unaware. Fortunately, with the LED screen on the back of the camera, I was able to set up and take the photo without her knowing. There's a bit of a blur, because she was still talking, still telling stories. This photo seems a good place to start this project: documenting what it is like taking care of my mom (who is now 91). I want to capture my mom's stories — I can't photograph the stories of her past, but, perhaps, in documenting her current stories, I can use the here and now, while incorporating some of the stories from the past. This photo seems a good place to start.