Well, here we are, September 21, I’ve been on the road–mostly Highway 2–the Hi-Line, in northern Montana for nine days and it’s been pretty much nine days of grayness. The vastness of this country seems emphasized by the somber light. But when the sky does break, as it did for a short while late yesterday afternoon, it can be magical. I was walking in downtown Havre and wasn’t really able to put the fine light to use but I knew how good it would be if I were in the right place, and that could have been anywhere but, perhaps, downtown Havre.
On the road the other day, with Ani at the wheel, I was reading Mary Clearman Blew’s beautifully written memoir, “Bone Deep in Landscape.” A native of northern Montana, novelist Blew talks about having seen something for just a fleeting few seconds while driving along the Clearwater River heading to her home in Idaho and seeing a small herd of elk drinking from the river. “I was able to glance back just once as the highway curved. The sun had broken through the rain clouds, and one shaft illuminated the elk in the dark green water, and then I was another mile down the road.”
Then she says, “I had been graced with the beauty of the remembered moment.” I find that phrase beautiful in its simplicity and so much a part of what we photographers experience and for which we should be grateful. We can’t get all the pictures we see. Sometimes we don’t take them because we simply weren’t ready or perhaps we couldn’t because we would flush the image away with the raising of the camera. But we saw them. How fortunate we are to be fine tuned in our vision so that we sometimes see pictures others do not even though they are there, also. Damn, I didn’t get the picture, but did you see that? And we can remember them, sometimes for seemingly ever, because we had been “graced with the beauty of the remembered moment.”
In my chapter about France and Paris in my new book, WILLIAM ALBERT ALLARD: Five Decades, to be published next month, I write about a remembered moment in a Paris wine bar. And I end the book with an Epilogue entitled: Pictures We Don’t Take and it goes back to the very beginning years of my work; I was only about two years into my career, but the picture I describe is still vivid in my mind. Of course, it’s just one of countless pictures I’ve seen but wasn’t able for one reason or another to put onto film or a digital file. But it was great to have seen them. It always is. Aren’t we lucky?