I sat there last night waiting my turn to show my photo and explain its meaning. Suddenly I became nervous, shaky even. I could feel my heart beating away as if it were trying to escape my body. I prayed for strength.
Finally it was my turn.
The professor walked up to me and took the photo from my trembling hands. I managed to say ''I'm going to try really hard not to cry'' because in that moment when I had to actually explain the photo in front of 20+ strangers I felt all of the emotions that I see and remember when I look at this particular photograph hit me like a ton of bricks.
He told me it was okay, I didn't have to say anything if I didn't want to. That's too easy, I've never taken the easy path for anything. He walked around with my photo in his hand, showing it to each face in the room one by one.
He looked at me and then he looked at everyone else. He said ''This is the power of a photograph''
Finally I managed to speak, it wasn't what I had wanted to say but it got the point across.
I talked about how my brother wanted to visit Montana his entire life, but never got to make it there. I told them of the promise I made the day he died, and how I went there for him. And that this is one of many photos I took like this. Photography is powerful, it captures moments, small fractions of our lives, and each photo tells a story. Not every story is filled with laughter, but that doesn't mean they can't have a powerful impact on someone.
He then thanked me, and I could tell he himself was a little emotional. Then he thanked me for sharing my photo again. He said he understands the special meaning of it because he recently lost someone important to him.
For me this photo reminds me of so many things. They always say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that quote rings so true for me especially in this particular photo. It reminds me of the hundreds of memories I have of my brother. It reminds me of all the hours I worked to save and plan on this trip to Montana. It reminds me of a promise kept, and a promise fulfilled. It reminds me of all the emotions that rushed over me when I finally made it to Montana. It also reminds me of all the heartache I experienced and still experience following his death.
Photography is important to me, and always has been. The older I get the less it's about just having photos and more about preserving memories, even the heartbreaking ones. Take photos of the good days, but also take photos of the powerful, emotional and spiritual experience's in life because they too are important because they're part of what shapes us.