The picture you’ll never see
(and photography as iconography).
Picture a young mother, sitting on a park bench on a beautiful and sunny early Autumn morning, with her two year old daughter by her side. The little girl is presenting a bouquet of dandelions to her mommy, who is intently watching her with an adoring smile.
Less than a month later, that young mom passes away.
She was my wife.
You’ll never see the photograph I took of her and my daughter that day… I’ll never show it.
It was taken on a cheap cell-phone camera, and it’s blotchy and blurry and the faces are barely recognizable. But it’s one of the most important photos I have.
You see, photographs for most of us are iconographs. In other words, they are only symbols that collectively represent and remind us of our loved ones and our experiences. They don’t need to be sharp on a screen or technically perfect, they only need to be clear in our minds and emotionally meaningful.
Let it Be and
Norway, 1965 and
26 thoughts on “The picture you’ll never see.”
Very touching, Peter! I can experience that image vividly in my heart and even without showing it, you can strike a chord in me. Michael Sin.
Incredibly touching Peter….and the most beautiful picture I’ve ever seen!!
I’m without words.
What a touching story!
Very powerful and moving Peter…and very true. Thanks for your vulnerability.
It is these images that stoke our soul.
I lived a version of that story… I had a photograph of my first wife with 3 of my younger children. When she died it went with her…
Some images have such power…
It was a pleasure to read your post and I continue to follow your posts with pleasure.
Gods bless you all. Life go on.
Wow. I can’t think of a more powerful way to drive home that last sentence
Mon Très Cher Peter,
I read with great attention, what you wrote … And I am very touched, very upsets … I know a few “your past history,” but that does not prevent me from being moved again …
I will finish by saying if only our Earth could count more men like you ….
This woman rest in peace.
PS: hoping that you received my mail well.
It’s such strong…
Thank you Michael, Kevin, Duane, Hilmar, Bob, Mark, Andrew, Geoff, Thanakorn, Judd, Hugues, and Luiz.
Hugues, yes I did receive your email, thank you.
Geoff, learning of your similar experience was both a surprise and a privilege for me. Thank you.
I got a lump in my throat after reading this post. Very touching and brave of you for sharing this on your blog!
Very touching indeed Peter. Your photographs bring me smiles and sighs because they express joy and the beauty of life in an outstanding way. This story has moved me too, but differently. All the best, Vincent.
Thank you very much Vincent and Jeroen.
Mixed emotions while reading this post. Very touching, thank you for sharing this intimate moment. We can see and feel the picture, although we didn’t see it… Best regards
Thank you Jean-Paul.
Very true. Thank you for sharing and thank you so much for the reminder.
thanks for sharing the thought , emotions emotions ..priceless
I just made the mistake/good decision to read this post. Tears running, hard to type. I’m going to go and kiss my wife. Sorry for your loss Peter. Thanks for sharing though.
Peace and Grace,
I feel a bit shaken up by that. The description was vivid, and the lesson poignant. I wrote a longer response and then deleted it. There’s really nothing to add.
आँखों में झिलमिला कर सीधे दिल में उतर गई ..
I just translated what you wrote Ajay… I should have done that years ago when you wrote it. Thank you.
Life is ever so delicate and the experience you share here is a painful but necessary reminder, indeed. Thank you for sharing this and my heart goes out to you and your family.
That is a very moving story. My sincere sympathy for your loss and good wishes for the future.