Julie Lyles Carr: Treasure Hunt

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Treasure Hunt

It was a picture I hadn't seen in over twenty years.

Since the rehearsal dinner the night before my wedding.

My parents and my in-laws had put together a little slide-show of mine and Mike's growing up years, complete with embarrassing baby photos and awkward moments.

And then there was a gem.

I hadn't seen the photo in several years until it popped up on the screen at the rehearsal dinner. And it had lasting impact when I saw it there.

It was a photograph of my dad and I, way back in the day, way back in California. My dad had recently purchased his first Canon (yes, my Canon love runs deep) and we were at some kind of family picnic for the rocket geeks (I say that in the most loving way) in his industry. We were out at a park where I remember there being endless tubs of iced soda pops. My dad had been fiddling with his camera throughout the day when a woman approached us and asked if she could take a picture of us.

And my dad let her.

It's not a perfectly lit composition. The shadow of the tree we were sitting under lines our faces. But in an age of knee-high athletic socks and Olan Mills style family portraits, the more close-up, natural lighting, casual nature of the shot has long stayed with me.

And is still quite evident in my shooting style today.

But it had been over twenty years since I'd seen the shot, to jog back to my original opener. And as I prepared for the class I'm teaching, I thought it might make a great visual for one of my points as I taught.

And therein started the mystery. Where oh where was this photograph?

My mom thought that she might have handed it off to me at some point. Since I'm such a photo nut, I knew I didn't have it in my possession. We progressed to my mother-in-law, who had orchestrated the slide show. She was fairly certain that she didn't have it but was prepared to call the dear family friend who had emceed our rehearsal dinner.

Over twenty years ago.

I was afraid this shot was a long one.

But my mom decided to take her hunt a bit further and called me a couple of days later with victory in her voice.

The photo had been found.

And through the miracle of web and ethernet lines, my dad scanned it and sent it to me...

My creation

I was about 11 or 12, my dad in his late thirties. I thought that orange shirt with the musical note was the greatest fashion statement ever. And I thought my dad knew everything.

I'm not so sure about the shirt now. But I'm still pretty sure my dad knows lots and lots and lots of stuff. Stuff I've never even thought about. Stuff I'd still love to learn.

I had to despeckle the original shot. I took some liberties with dodging and burning and lightening and darkening some areas. I made the focus a bit softer.

But when all is said and done, this is the picture I remember. From a time that is a little foggy now.

Which makes this image all the sweeter. A new Canon. A day in the park. A new orange t-shirt. A new type of photography style.

And my daddy.

Mom, thanks for digging for this picture.

I love you.

Not just because you facilitate my hair-brained treasure hunts. And not just because you taught me how to make the best fried chicken in the world.

But just because of being you.

Daddy, thanks for scanning this picture for me.

I love you.

Not just because you taught me about pi. And not just because you taught me about grits with butter and salt.

But just because of being you.

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