Friday, November 7, 2008

Picture Taking Habits, Travel, and The Mom Picture

Now that I am on the Regular Program, picture taking has become part of my daily habits and basic mannerisms. In fact, I very rarely take pictures in my normal life. As in, never. But here I do, as we all do, at practically every moment of the day.

Picture taking on the Berbati Valley Walk, today.

On the one hand, the pictures that we take at sites will be teaching tools for the rest of our lives. On the other, the constant travelling fosters a constant feeling of vacation-living, and therefore picture taking is required.

There are so many photos being taken, actually, that sometimes the habit takes over and I find myself taking pictures for no reason; the physical motion has become so ingrained that I have no control over it any more. For example, today the group walked through the Berbati Valley; as we ambled up a dirt road we came across a very recently dead snake. It was so recent, in fact, that we thought it might still be alive. Fortunately, Karl was brave enough to poke it with a stick, revealing that yes, indeed, it was not of the living world any longer. The cameras came out immediately, on all sides. So what would possess me to take a picture of Karl standing in the middle of the road with a dead snake on a stick?

For real?

I have no idea why I took the picture. Other people snapped it as well. Is it because it was exciting to see a real live (dead) snake? Enh, that sounds redonk. Could it be that we have to preserve every mundane moment of the trip? Somewhat plausible? I guess every one of us has our own reasons for taking the dead snake picture, but I remember thinking how strange it was even as I became an automaton, lifting the camera to my eye, unable to see anything on the view finder because my sunglasses were too dark, but clicking the button anyways.

Besides the rather weird photos of every single thing that happens, Trip Photos can be grouped into several types:

1) Stuff Photos without People – these are the pictures of blocks, statues, objects, etc., that go into our permanent collection and have an academic purpose. They are boring.
Stuff Picture: on the first trip, I really cared about thresholds. Not so much any more.

2) People Photos – these are either posed or are natural, and eventually they will make it up on Facebook because they are more exciting.

People Picture: Fun! Julia, Scott and Dan at the Tholos of Atreus, Mycenae.

3) The Mom Photo
A good Mom Photo for the Mother of Ben Sullivan (at the quarries on Thasos).

This last type is one of my faves. It is the picture taken with the intention that it will inhabit a frame in someone’s Mother’s house. The Mom Picture has several elements. The first is pretty scenery; for this reason the Mom Picture is most often taken on top of mountains or acropoleis. The second is posing. This means that no Mom Pictures can be taken in museums, since posing is illegal. Plus, Moms don’t really want pictures of their children with boring statues; they prefer dramatic landscapes or famous monuments in the background.
Mark gets his Mom Picture taken by someone else but I snap one, too, for good measure. Tholos of Atreus, Mycenae.

The third thing about Mom Pictures is that they are group projects. They cannot be taken without the assistance of another human being, since camera-timers and tripods are not practical on top of Mycenaean citadels. This means that a person needs to ask someone else to take Mom Pictures, but must also take Mom Pictures for other people in return. Thus reciprocal relationships evolve over the trips, and the product of these picture-taking-cycles is a series of pictures spreading out in all directions across the earth to make Mom’s, somewhere, happy.

Me in today’s Mom picture, at the citadel of Midea.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the picture, Katie.


Jeremy LaBuff said...

Fact: The way Guy says "Berbati," that is with the accent of a people still sulking that they failed as a superpower, always made me think of Havarti cheese, produced by a people who never was or will be a superpower, except in the world of famous tragedies and children's stories. Go figure.

J. Harker said...

A) I dig the pictures and the concept of the "mom" shot.

B) I've been roped into a meme. Feel free to ignore it completely, but I figured I'd let you know that you'd been "tagged" in my most recent post.

Do keep on having as much fun as you possibly can - but know that we're missing you back here in Ohio.