So last month I started this blog. I wrote two posts and started on my third. I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I got stuck on my third post and my mind went blank for a few days.
I finally came to the realization that I was having trouble finishing my post because I wanted to write about something different at the moment. And it hit me that I had made the initial focus of my blog a little more narrow than I actually want. Given the fact that I have just started this blog and, let’s be honest, no one really knows about my site; I figured I would change the name to make it better fit what I decided I wanted to do. So, I have changed my blog’s name from My Photo Allegories to This Photographer’s Reflection. I chose the word “reflection” because it means both an image and a thought. I will continue to write about my photography. But now I can expand my focus onto other topics as they come to mind.
One of my favorite places to go in Washington, D.C. is Arlington National Cemetery. Every time I go I am in awe of the representations of service and sacrifice that I am surrounded by. It is a humbling experience. Arlington is always very peaceful. It is still an active cemetery so it is not uncommon to see or hear a funeral in progress.
As someone who loves history it is fascinating to me to look at the rows of white headstones and think about the fact that each one of them symbolizes an individual with their own story. Each headstone represents the final resting place for someone’s hopes and dreams. Each one embodies someone who was loved and grieved. It is always interesting to see what information about a person is put on their headstone. For example, during my last visit there I stumbled across the headstone of Edwin J. Cook. I was so struck by what I read that I immediately took a picture. This one man served in the Army, Navy and Air Force. He flew B-29s during World War II; F 94 fighter jets during the Korean War, and served at the Military Airlift Command headquarters during the Vietnam War. What an amazing example of service to one’s country! Can you imagine the things he experienced or witnessed? It would have been an honor to meet him.
Taken as a whole, over 150 years of our country’s history rests within these grounds. However, the history of the land itself goes back even further. The land once belonged to George Washington’s step – grandson and was also the home of Robert E. Lee. Monuments dating back to the Civil War are located there. Of course more current events and individuals from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are memorialized as well. Presidents, judges, military figures, scientists and medical personnel, men and women, and even those without a name can be found at Arlington. You can spend hours walking through the graves. There are over 400 acres of beauty and valor to explore. But perhaps the most profound experience one will have while visiting the cemetery is watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier…..that is another conversation.
For a few weeks now I have been toying with the idea of writing a blog. But the internet is full of blogs. I don’t want to be just one more line on a page of search engine results. And so I wondered, what would I write about and who would want to read it? A blog represents a commitment. Once I pick a subject I have to keep writing about it in different and meaningful ways. When I was in college I learned that one does not write a research paper simply to rehash what has already been written. The goal is to provide a fresh perspective. Granted, a blog is not a research paper. But I do believe in providing a fresh perspective. So, what to write about? One of my friends said, “Your photographs, of course!”
I do take pictures. I didn’t plan on it. It was quite by accident really. About seven or eight years ago I started running outdoors. I was working full time, going to grad school, and I had a toddler and a baby at home. I needed time to myself. I needed some peace and quiet. So I went outside and started running. Not only did I enjoy the physical benefits of exercise, I discovered that there was so much to see. I was running on the same roads that I drove every day. Only I had no idea how much I was missing being inside my car. Running outside I experienced for the first time how exciting it is to watch the seasons change. Then a friend invited me to join a group of runners at a nearby Civil War battlefield. And I made another discovery. Getting off the beaten path is extremely therapeutic!
I don’t remember exactly the moment when I decided to take my first picture. At one point I had developed a stress fracture in my left foot and wasn’t able to run quite as much. I think it was somewhere during that time that I picked up the camera and started taking pictures of some of the flowers and plants I had become familiar with on my route. Whenever it was that it happened, I became hooked. I began to see the world around me in terms of snapshots. Perhaps it was a texture, perhaps it was a color. But these images brought back memories and reminded me of things I hadn’t thought about in years. Sometimes they related to the present instead of the past. I realized that behind each of these images was a story.
And so, that is what I will write about. The stories and meanings behind the photos. My posts will not contain tips about photography. I do not know enough about photography to offer any such advice. The internet is full of sites for anyone wanting to really learn about ISO and aperture. I can even recommend a few. Instead, I will write about the images my camera has captured. I hope you will enjoy the journey.