Current Issue

A moment captured

Photo courtesy of Taylor Kirkpatrick

I found it in a box of odds and ends, with some buttons, keys, thread and an old measuring tape. I could tell by looking at the faded packaging that the film was old; it was made when capturing images was a tiny miracle.

It sat on my desk for a week or so amidst the other long-range to-dos — the reminder to feed the dog his heartworm pill at the end of the month, the fixture I need to install to turn the hose nozzle on and off. On my way to the Fotomat, I felt like it was to be an unrewarding project that was more of an experiment, like a thank-you note to the vice president that your uncle knew when you were fresh out of college and doubtful that he would get it, let alone remember the interview.

The boy at the camera counter had the smugness of a person recently promoted from order taker to film technician and the shortsightedness of someone who thought that the microcosm of a Fotomat and a nametag gave him inalienable rights and knowledge not to be made available to the outside world.

“Wow, they stopped making this a long time ago. I can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to salvage anything from this roll. But we’ll still have to charge you for processing.”

The following day — I didn’t want to seem too desperate, but I admit my curiosity was piqued — I walked in and was greeted by a friendly woman who nodded knowingly when I tore into the envelope then and there, expectant and enthusiastic.

Unless the roll was an in-depth study of abstract brown patches, the first 19 photos were, on the whole, disappointing. I had given up hope until I saw three photographs of my brother as a 5-year-old with our first dog in the house where I grew up. This glimpse into the past, this tender moment long forgotten, evoked love and longing viscerally, the way the smell of pumpkin pie takes everybody somewhere.

Photographs are like stories — if an image universally resonates with readers, and if a reader can personally relate to the image and connect it with his human experience, the image is successful. Books and photos — captured moments — are mirrors which obscure and distort or perhaps at best distill humanity and remind us who we are or were — an amazing feat for little black marks on wood pulp.

Taylor Kirkpatrick (IMBA ’04), a Colorado native, is vice president of the Denver investment banking firm W.G. Nielsen & Co. He authored the award-winning children’s book Worthwhile (Chapman Press, 2003) — a fictional story about a boy and his grandmother that promotes giving and kindness. Taylor travels to local schools to share his story and meet with children about how they can make a difference in the world.

Comments are closed.