Flumes Volume 1 Issue 1 - Page 19

Action From Within

By Kelly Cunningham

Last week, an old friend of mine requested that I share on Facebook some photos from about ten years ago. Now, this is not the first time I’ve received this kind of call to action; sharing photos with my friends and family has always given me great joy. In fact, every Christmas or birthday, my friends and family receive framed photographs from me. For my mother, a photo, circa 1981, of me and my brothers before my first tap recital, the three of us standing in front of a perfect pink Midwestern sunset, me in a tutu and my brothers in miniature sailor suits. For my dear friend, a black and white image on the Bodega Bay coastline of a kite surfer, evoking youthful dreams as he and his kite break through the haze and fog rolling in on the beach. Sharing photos gives me the chance to not only revisit the thousands of photos I have taken, but to personalize each gift, scouting out the perfect memory or image that will make my loved ones feel special, cherished, remembered.

When someone dies, photographs become sacred. When I look back at pictures of my dad, there is a beginning and an end. Right after his death, it felt urgent to remember and celebrate his life with photos. I located his “day old” picture, pictures of him from Little League, Senior Prom, from West Side Story (he was the lead), from the day I was born, and the photo I took with him in April, 2012, two months before he died. We visited Yosemite National Park, and on our way out of the park, he, my mother, and I stood for a quick shot along the side of the road, right in front of the majestic El Capitan, which harbored a white glow as the sun casted its perfect rays onto the smooth granite. How strange, how heartbreaking, how finalizing; that last photo I will ever share with my dad. And what a perfect setting; one of the grandest rock formations in the world, setting the stage for the grandness of his life, the enormity of the love he shared, the works he accomplished. Of all the worldly possessions he left behind, there is none more valuable to me than the hundreds of photographs I have of him and the life he lived.

Ansel Adams said it perfectly, “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” Photographs conjure up so many feelings, just as strongly as certain smells evoke specific places and times in my life. When I look back at photographs