Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The One that Got Away

It’s the bane of every photographer and traveler: the photo op that got away.  And I’m convinced the more photos you take, the more often you find yourself wishing, “If only I had my camera right now!” 

For me, the Big One happened in Winter, 2001.  We hadn’t lived in Sacramento more than a few weeks when September 11 changed everything.  The city, the state, the country, and the world were gripped by fear and anxiety, and my husband and I were by no means immune.  We had moved to a city where we didn’t know anyone.  We didn’t have any friends.  Our family was thousands of miles away.  We felt very, very alone.

One afternoon we sat together eating a late lunch at Jack’s Urban Eats, one of our favorite local restaurants.  Jack’s is in midtown Sacramento, right next to some railroad tracks that are frequently used.  The winter sun was low in the sky.  The tree branches were bare. And Jack’s was deserted, an afternoon lull.  As we sat, chatting away, suddenly a train rumbled past.  I looked up and reflected in the restaurant’s windows was a portent: the train passing was loaded with tanks. 

We stood up and walked outside. Tank after tank after tank -- painted in desert camouflage -- passed as the train made its way through Midtown Sacramento. 

And I didn’t have a camera with me.  Here we are nearly a decade later, and that day still sticks with me.  If only I’d had my camera...

Every time I’m stopped by a train now, I look to see what the cargo is.  And I carry my camera with me much more frequently.  But I still wish I’d gotten a photo of the train full of tanks making its way through town. 

So, tell us: what’s that photographic moment you missed that you’ll never forget? 


TheWordWire said...

A trainload of tanks would be a pretty stirring sign-of-the-times shot.

One of the most memorable travel moments of my life was with my Mother -- We were driving along the coast in Newfoundland, Canada, and hopped out of the car for a quick look-see over a cliff. The walkable area kept going farther than we thought. We ended up sitting in solitude 50ish feet over the North Atlantic eating wild blueberries and watching whales below. At first I was so mad at myself because I'd forgotten the camera in the car, and it was too far to quickly run and get it -- but now that it's one of my most unforgettable travel moments ever, I realize that had I been snapping pictures, I might have missed just being there in the moment.

Thanks for the reminder of it this morning - Don't need a picture for the thought of it to make me smile.

Angela K. Nickerson said...

@TheWordWire: What a lovely memory! :)

James Martin said...

When Ansel Adams was asked about missed photo ops, he said he missed many good ones, then added something like, "Missing a photo is a lot like lost love, you can worry about it, but it won't do you any damn good."


Angela K. Nickerson said...

@James: I've never heard that quote before, and from such a stellar photographer. A little comforting to think that even Ansel Adams had one that got away! :)

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