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A Thousand Words

Story posted March 07, 2011

Author: Alison Bennie, Editor

Alison Bennie, EditorMy daughter turned twenty-two a couple of months ago. Her birthday is just after the holidays, so every year when I ask her what is on her birthday wish list, I do so with a little bit of trepidation at the idea of more spending. And she still doesn’t have an iPhone…

But, although I suspect she would still happily take a fancy new phone, what she actually asked for this year was unexpected. She asked for family photos. Specifically, she wanted a particular photo of me with my father, a particular photo of her father with his father, and a particular photo of my parents in their twenties – all printed and framed similarly. A set of black and white, galleryframed family pictures, none of them including her.

Maybe, on the cusp of college graduation, about to move on into the world in so many different ways, it was a way to carry her history with her as she goes, to provide a sense of identity the way that surrounding herself with artifacts from Maine, her favorite books, and the baby pictures of herself and her brother have since she left for college. Maybe the watchful eyes of parents and grandparents move from annoying to comforting when you get beyond a certain age or lifestage. Maybe it was just that she could envision them as a nice, graphic statement on one of the walls of her apartment.

Whatever the reason, it was a request that made me smile. I spend a lot of time in my work on the magazine arranging, editing, and thinking about photographs. They can be powerful and convey so much so simply when done right and, when not, can dilute or confuse what we want to say. Sometimes we owe the success to sheer serendipity, sometimes to good planning – always to talent in our photographers. In the portraits that Brian Wedge ’97 did of our faculty members, I think you can see the passion for their subject, the intensity of their teaching, their wisdom. In this world of multi-media, we could give it to you with motion, with audio. But it’s there, too, in just two dimensions.

And I was hesitant in some ways to use the fall sports photos in this issue. Again, in a digital age, anything that happened longer ago than last week is old news. But the moments are so strong and full of heart, so plainly depict the excitement and achievement of the players, that sharing them is a must. And, although we love it when we can be timely, the magazine is not so much a document of now, I think. It goes on the shelf, it slips into the archives, and it says – like the pictures I framed for my daughter – “this was.”

AMB