Bea, the kids, and I are camping at Half Moon Bay near San Francisco. We’ve been here before, and have come back because it’s a great camp site, with warm showers, and sits right on the beach. The summer weather has never been too hot for us, and so, it’s a nice getaway from Southern California. Sadly, the thing we haven’t found much of here is good coffee. We did stumble up Blue Sky Farms yesterday, and while it wasn’t the best coffee we’ve ever had, and honestly can’t compete with the types of coffees you find in San Francisco, it was a pretty good coffee, and certainly the best bet anywhere near the campsite.
While there, we happened to meet a small family (Chris, Jen, and Judy) with their dog, Lyle Lovett. Abigail loves dogs about as much or more than she loves chocolate ice cream, so, whenever she sees a new dog, we end up striking up an acquaintance with another dog owner. Needless to say, we quickly made friends with Lyle and his entourage. It was a nice meeting, and Jen and Judy were extremely kind and warm with not just Abigail, but with Alison, Bea, and me. I happened to have a big camera and a big lens, so it didn’t go unnoticed for long, and before long, I found myself snapping some pictures of Lyle, exchanging business cards, and promising to send photos as soon as we landed back home.
Several hours later, I received a short email, the gist of which was this: Lyle had passed, and our meeting seemed serendipitously arranged–Jen, Judy, and Chris looked forward to the photos more than ever under the circumstances.
I processed the picture above, and sent it quickly out.
I guess what the whole situation did was remind me that photography does, indeed, hold a certain power. A well-taken and well-made photograph cannot capture the soul of any one or any thing, but I think it can capture the entire spirit of any subject. I am relying on contextual minutia here, I know, but I am intentionally distinguishing between the soul and spirit. I do not believe the two are synonymous. It uplifted me to read the thank-you that I received from Judy and read this, “I love the photo of Lyle – his eyes to me are so warm and attentive.” The dog, as you can see, was beautiful. His eyes held an entire language in them. The expression above is not hard to read, and it was with these eyes that he communicated his wants, his fears, and his love to his family the entire length of his life with them. If Judy, Jen, and Chris can look back on this photo a year, ten years, twenty years from now, and with this photo recollect just a few fragments of the Lyle’s wordless voice that he spoke, while alive and in their care, solely to them, then for me photography will have had more meaning than it ever had the right to have.
The thoughts of my family, as well as our prayers go out to our new friends as they lay their beloved dog to rest.