"You can't help but wonder at how sweet and sad and innocent all moments of life are rendered by the tripping of the camera's shutter, for at that point the future is still unknown and has yet to hurt us, and also for that brief moment, our poses are accepted as honest"
~Douglas Coupland~

I'm strolling about snapping apparently random pictures outside of the local museum. Inevitably a couple walks up to me to ask me to take their picture for them on their instamatic. Inside I cringe when I hear this. I put on a smile, "yeah, no problem!" and wait for them to get themselves ready in front of some scenic idyllic backdrop.

He looks down at her briefly. He smiles as he reaches out his right hand to tuck an errant curl behind her left ear before stroking his index along her jawline. She looks down slightly blushing with a small smile


"Hey! We weren't ready!"

"Oops, sorry, my mistake"

I wait for them again, holding back my itchy trigger finger. They both face the camera blocking most of the scene, arms straight at their sides, looking at the lens. "Say Cheese" (shudder). They fake a smile for posterity.


To me, taking photos is capturing moments, small slices of life on paper. Life can not be posed to get genuine honest views of the moment, of the emotion.

I'll lay odds that the picture they frame will be the first shot, not the "WE WERE HERE!" graffiti type shot, but the "You are precious to me. Did you know that?" shot.

The young man was very polite.

"Excuse me Ma'am could you ring me up please?"

"Oh no Ma'am I don't have a credit card"*wry smile* "I'm too young for one of those. I'm still only 17."

He is out with his 15 year old girlfriend and his 13 month old son shopping for clothes before heading over to the studio for a family picture.

"I've got the cash Ma'am. I worked hard the last couple of weeks doing odds and ends. I'm spoiling my girl and boy today. I treat you good, don't I?"

She smiles up at him with adoring eyes as she struggles to tie the new shoes onto the child.

"It's hard getting a good job for now 'cause I'm so young, plus dropping out of school hasn't helped, but I've got plans. I'm enlisting in the navy soon as I turn 18. They'll never want for anything, right Babe?"

He turns his smile onto his young family. She nods enthusiastically in agreement. All eyes for the boy with the big plans.

"Life is good. I'm going places and taking them with me. My boy is going to have the best that life has to offer. I'll see to that. Thankyou for all your help Ma'am"

He looks at his watch

"Come on Babe, time to have our first family portrait!"

I can't help but wonder if the next family portraits will show the conviction, hope, and trust in the future that is sure to show in their eyes for this one.

The face of a young boy stares out at the passengers. He has no hair, dark eyes, a bit on the chubby side. He's wearing a dark T-shirt and a "hurry up and take my picture already willya? I've got places to go and people to see" look. The photo is in shades of grey.

The handwritten note next to the likeness reads...

I am missing. If you see me please call the sheriff's department or my mother L_____P_____ at ###-####. Thankyou N____P____, 13 years old.