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« The Zen of Event Photography | Main | Becoming The Photographer... »
Sunday
Jun192011

My Father and The Porcelain God

Black and white photographs dangled on a string, handcuffed by clothespins over the toilet. This was our darkroom.
 I was 10. Dad loved photography, and the most logical place to conduct the transformation of images to paper was, of course, on a collapsible photo lab above the toilet in our bathroom. It was pretty ingenious actually…developing possibilities above the Porcelain God. The perfect day was a collision in photographic banter huddled in the echoed walls of tangerine formica and tile. I watched him worship imagery, dipping and drenching the 8 x 10 sheets of magic paper into solutions, witnessing images cross the middle realm to the harsh reality of our 1970’s-orange painted bathroom. Ma had painted the bathroom orange to match the box of Tide. Why it was orange still perplexes me. The box of Tide never entered the bathroom.
My father and I had one very important thing in common: the pursuit of the perfect photograph, and my father was the master hunter. He’d arm for the capture with Minolta in hand and a crackling brown leather bag, its buckle bursting with filters and lenses for any possible scenario. Rolls of film marinated in every ASA, color, black and white, slide film.

One of the scariest things I've ever heard him say was, "Real photographers shoot in slides. National Geographic only accepts slides.” Dad was a master at the technical aspect of photography. The actual science of the capture crouched in wait on my father’s tongue, anticipating the moment I might ask a question so he could leap loads of information into my psyche and implant its infinite knowledge within my frontal lobe. This game of proverbial darts never quite hit the bulls-eye. I spent my childhood fascinated by the act of taking pictures and developing images, but running from the attempt to actually understand the process. It somehow seemed if I knew what I was doing, the magic would dissolve into the abyss of that Porcelain God.
Someday I would understand his technical gibberish of aperture and shutter speed, bracketing and focal length…but not yet…I wasn’t ready. I was having too much fun...watching his negatives evolve into prints of Kodak couture. His dewdrops on the flower, the angelic flares in his sunsets, the nature wrangled by his lens.
There is no longer a darkroom. My bathroom is beige. The brown crackled bag sits in my closet, baring fossils of our hunt. I await that perfect day, when he and I sit together again, when the miles contract and the world forgives our temporary retreat into our divided realities. The days of Tide are long behind us, but the memories will linger, dangling gently in my mind, by clothespins.

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Reader Comments (1)

what a lovely hommage to your dad. thanks for sharing!

June 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlisa jey

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