“A long time ago in a land far away” I took this photo in Key West.
Looking at it now, waiting on the birds to fly, hoping they would compose a photo for me before the sun set any further. A still life with a loud background.
I was there after a speaking gig so I was alone, missing my other half Rachel. While I love to travel, it isn’t the same alone on business trips.
As for the photo, it is the momentary stillness that I remember as I pressed the shutter button. The settings on the camera I can get from the xif data. The buskers, the tourists, the chickens wandering around, the essence of Mallory Square in Key West, and the moment I pressed the shutter. These are vivid yet fading memories.
I have no desire to recreate that particular moment. Why would you? It happened. It’s over. The chaos of Mallory Square immediately resumed as the shutter released. And it was over. Over forever. Nothing defines finality better than a photo.
Of course photography makes everything look more majestic and amazing than it actually was. But shouldn’t it? Do we not want to seek out the best in others, in events, in places near and far?
There is a saying among photographers, well two sayings actually. The first being
“the best camera is the one you have with you”.
And the second is the profoundly obvious observation that
“If you want to create beautiful photos, take photos of beautiful things.”
Key West is a “different” place. It is beautiful. But it is not actually quiet. Yet it is.
I do understand why Hemingway stayed there amidst the commotion and chickens wandering around Mallory Square.
Creative chaos. Yet quiet. And there is the moment of silence in your mind’s eye as you see the birds compose the perfect sunset photo a thousand times for the beauty only in the minds eye.
Yet sometimes it gets quiet for only you. Chaos. Yet quiet. You become quiet. You disappear. You are the very definition of “being present” and yet you define it by your silence.
Sometimes in a tiny portion of a second the machinery cooperates and you capture “it.” You can share it. That shouldn’t happen. I mean, what are the fucking odds? Slim to none at best.
You know this is happening because it becomes quiet in the middle of chaos. You know there is something you are supposed to do. If, and it’s a big “IF”, you figure it out, what you are supposed to do,, then you know.
You know, it will never happen again. Ever.
You appreciate it. Maybe, you share it. Rarely. Sometimes.
And still you mourn it. For it is gone and will never happen again.
That moment in the photo I took? It is the the closest I will ever get to Hemingway’s perfect “Whiskey & Soda.” His drink. A Key West Sunset. Enjoy it. Finish it. Accept it. And tip the bartender well. Because it happened.