always in the picture

This picture is a lousy picture. A good picture would show the choirs singing, up close. An acceptable picture might include part of the choir loft railing, maybe as part of the framing.

But this picture. This is lousy.

It shows the ugly bracket on the back of the railing. It shows the rows of seats in the loft. It shows my knee.

And you can barely see the choirs, the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir and the American Boychoir.

But this is the kind of blogpost I like to read, posts that are written like this picture is composed.

I like to see the writer, to get a glimpse of who they are. The idea of an anonymous writer has an arrogance at a time when it is acceptable to acknowledge your existence. If there is any perspective at all in the piece, any proclamation of that this post is factual and true and must be followed, I need to know how you are sitting. I need to see your knee.

I like to see the context, the rough edges, the microphones and the flag holders. I spend enough time backstage at events that I like to know what the backstage of your life looks like. The conversations that happen off-stage, the side of the service that the choir sees, the view from the balcony–that’s what intrigues me. I need to see where you are sitting.

Of course, I do like to see the choir itself, the object of your attention. And getting that in focus is important. But that is the polished part, that is the part made to look good. And I know now that it is actually pretty easy to make things look good.

So I’m saying that I like to see the writer, to see the context, and maybe to see the subject. And maybe what makes a good post is different that what makes a good photograph. Maybe the standards are different.

But what is really compelling about both a photograph and a post is what is missing from both.

This is a picture of and a post about a choir. And neither of them come anywhere close to what a choir is about:

The singing.

The voices of sixty children from two choirs and multiple states and multiple nationalities and multiple religions singing these words by Moses Hogan: “I may not be all that you are, I may not be a shining star, but what I am I thank the Lord for making me his child.” And those voices rising higher than the arches in the picture and blending and layering.

It’s the singing that makes a choir. And a picture. And a post.

And it’s the singing that you can’t see.

But when I listen to you, when I read what you write, when I look at what you see…

I want to hear the singing.

Because then I won’t care about perfect composition.


9 responses to “always in the picture

  1. thanks for the grace…

  2. Beautifully written. Thank you.

  3. This is spot on! Thanks.

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  5. This is very nicely put, and it describes well what I like about your posts. It’s a great metaphor.

    To extend it a bit more…I like to pull back and include plenty of context when I’m taking a picture (or drafting a post). It gives me more options when I take a second look at what I’ve done. Maybe the thing I thought would be most important or interesting isn’t. Maybe, when I play with how I might crop the photo (or edit the post), I’ll discover something completely unexpected off to the side. If you crop in too tightly from the beginning, you aren’t leaving yourself open to those possibilities.

  6. Thanks kristin. your comment reminds me of our son’s photo style. for a long time, all he had was a 50mm lens. but he has a canon DSLR with great resolution. So he can shoot and crop later.

    If you crop too tightly from the beginning, you aren’t leaving yourself open to those possibilities. A brilliant thought.

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