Black and White Stories

Black and White Stories

My darkroom phase wasn’t as much about learning
to see in black & white or teasing the image
out of a negative as it was about nostalgia.
Learning the details of a photo by tracing
my finger over the lines and shades
of a colorless image was like a journey
into the past. My past, and yours.
My early years were captured
primarily in black & white.
Now, as then, I find a story
in those gray shades.

Each time I view the one photo I have of you
as a child I discover new details.

A photo of us, together, says as much
about your life as it does about mine.

And my favorite photo of you, taken
during my darkroom phase.

I trace those lines and find stories.

The photos here are mine
My father (3 years old?)
Sitting on my father’s lap
My father, in the 1980s

This is my response to dVerse Poets: 9th year Anniversary, and the prompt from guest host Brian Miller, which is to write a poem that captures a moment
in a way that evokes memories and experiences.

37 thoughts on “Black and White Stories

  1. Ha. We both ended up tracing lines in photographs with our fingers.
    It is rather sad that we dont have those tangible pictures anymore. I had to take photography in high school as part of the year book curriculum. It was always so special seeing the image come through.

    Memories of your father. I remember special moments with mine. I bet they are in a slide projector in the basement somewhere in my parents house. Lol. We used to arrange them in those looks. Oy. You got me going.

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    • I have 8mm home movies from the fifties and sixties that I digitized. From the seventies and through the eighties, he was more into slides (I have those). Then video for a couple of years before his death, in the early nineties. And he appears in so few of any of them.

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  2. This poem resonates with me, Ken. I too have a love of black and white photos, securely tied to monochrome nostalgia and childhood photos. I particularly enjoyed the lines:
    ‘Learning the details of a photo by tracing
    my finger over the lines and shades
    of a colorless image was like a journey
    into the past.’
    A touching tribute to your father.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. YES! That’s how I feel about black and white photos too – nostalgic. They take us back to the past, and another time. As a child, you looked so much like your father as a child. Wow.

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    • Thank you. I only just noticed that childhood resemblance in the photos, myself. My father only lived to 60, and his hair was thinning for years. Of course, with our age difference I’d always thought of him as “old.” Meanwhile, I would always pass as someone 10 or 15 years younger. Now that I’m closer to 70, I get comments on how my face looks so much like his.

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  4. When my mother passed, decades ago, we discovered a HUGE trove of photos and we five siblings voted my sister (clearly the most worthy – and willing – candidate) to be the treasuremaster. she treats us, regularly, to video trips down memory lanes. I can’t speak for my brothers, but-for me- much of it’s unexplored/unremembered territory.
    Thanks for sharing, KG

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    • When my mother died in 2008, we had a bureau drawer full of photos to sort. In fact, as we sorted them my sister said that on a visit to my mother 13 years earlier (a year or two after my father’s death) she saw that drawer open and commented on it. My mother said she had been going through it the previous week and throwing out photos that were no longer needed. Fortunately, she took my sister’s advice and saved the rest. We have no idea what was lost, but we sure appreciate what was saved!

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  5. Ken, it is clear you have great sensitivity. Who better to be a photographer who pores over photographs? Those are precious photos and you captured a wonderful one of your dad. Parents smiling and happy in photos are all that some children have.

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  6. I love this! It is so true…..I look back at old black and white photos of my folks when they were dating. One in particular I love. There are sitting in a rowboat together, at shore’s edge of a lake. My father has his arms around my mother…they are both so young and laughing at whomever took the photo. So incredibly happy and youthful and I wonder what happened immediately before and immediately after that photo. Did their hearts quicken when my dad put his arms around her? Was this long before they eloped or when they first started dating? There are creases and cracks in the photo – it is so old.
    I love what you’ve said here about three photos. The stories they tell….that we can imagine as we hold them and look at them. Searching….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lillian. 🙂
      Having a connection with the scene, whether remote, second hand, or a blink-of-an-eye away from us makes us want to know more, have an intimate knowledge of the moment. When I see old photos, I’m reminded of the questions I never asked.

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