"Then there were the photographs he’d taken in London since the Blitz started. Jimmy eyed a series of portraits on the far wall. He stood and went to have a closer look. The East End family pulling the remains of their possessions on the back of a handcart; the woman in her apron hanging laundry on a kitchen clothes line with the fourth wall of her kitchen missing, the private space suddenly made public; the mother reading bedtime stories to her six children in the Andersen shelter; the stuffed panda with half his leg blown off; the woman sitting on a chair with a blanket around her shoulders and a blaze behind her where her house used to stand; the old man searching for his dog in the rubble.I read this and it resonated with me somewhere deep down inside of me. I, too, have felt that photojournalism steals a piece of people's souls. I have thought that they need to be alone with their sadness and trauma... then again, I have photographed two funerals and a still-born baby's blessing and photos with the family. Many times, people like to remember, even though at the time they think they don't.
They haunted him. He sometimes felt he was stealing a piece of their souls, snatching a private moment for himself when he made his shot; but Jimmy didn’t take the transaction lightly, they were joined, he and his subjects. They watched him from his walls and he felt a debt to them, not only in having borne witness to a fixed instant in their human experience, but also to the ongoing responsibility of keeping their stories alive. Jimmy would often hear the grim announcements on the BBC: ‘Three firemen, five policemen, and one hundred and fifty- three civilians are known to have lost their lives’ (such clean, measured words to describe the horror he’d inhabited the night before), and he’d see the same few lines printed in the newspaper, but then that would be it. There was no time for any more these days, no point in leaving flowers or writing epitaphs, because it would all take place again the following night, and the one after that. The war left no space for individual grief and memorial, the sort he’d seen in his father’s funeral home as a boy, but Jimmy liked to think his photographs went some way to keeping a record. That one day, when it was all ended, the images might survive and people of the future would say, ‘That’s how it was.’"
As I read the lines following that, "Jimmy liked to think his photographs went some way to keeping a record. That one day, when it was all ended, the images might survive and people of the future would say, ‘That’s how it was.’" I realized that too sounded very correct and exactly what I believe.
The other day, as we were hiking The Grotto, I took some pictures of the landscape. It felt different than it used to. It felt wrong. I realized that I prefer to include people in my pictures, though I don't know when that happened.
So as I was thinking about what Jimmy had said, and thought about how I felt on The Grotto trail, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I'd like to study to be a photojournalist...