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The Photograph Not Taken

September 24, 2014


I waited a year to get this picture*.

You could call blogging my hobby. Taking or finding old photos that work for a particular topic is part of the fun. While I read a number of blogs that don’t use photos or rely mainly on stock photos from generic sources, for me as a lifelong writer, being able to use photos to convey and illustrate ideas and words is like a having a whole new lexicon or language to add to the thoughts. Now as I think about topics and what I want to say or write about, I weigh carefully: well, do I have photos for that? Or would it work better for my weekly newspaper column which currently does not use any photos.

I’m learning to have a camera with me at just about all times, or I run across something that I’d like to photograph, but can’t. If I had a smart phone, I would pretty much always have a camera with me, but I don’t have one yet.

So about a year ago the farmers around here were beginning to harvest their corn, some of them doing so early to make silage out of it (chopped up corn and corn stalks). I passed by a field looking something like this and I thought the colors and layers and stripes would make a marvelous photo, but I didn’t pull over and take the picture. A day or so later, the field had been totally harvested, and the opportunity was gone.

One morning last week I was heading to work early and the sun was just right for an early morning snap of the corn harvest. I found a place to safely turn around, go back and grab the photo I hadn’t been smart enough to capture last year. I’m currently using it as a fallish cover photo on one of the Facebook pages I work with for Third Way Café. I also snatched this shot of a nearby produce stand which featured a collection of stunning mums for the last couple weeks.

Produce stand

A day later on my way home from work, the corn was all gone: harvested, and a farmer was using a honey wagon to spread, you guessed it, honey (liquid chicken manure) on the field. My husband said they only have a small window of time in which they can spread the fertilizer and conditions have to be just so for them, too. (No ugly picture here.)

The moral of the story is obvious: Don’t wait, do it now. It applies to so much of life.

Have a grandson celebrating his first birthday? Drive five hours and be there. An elderly friend who needs visiting? Take an hour and check in with them. Visits don’t need to be long to be a bright spot in someone’s day. Your son is in his first band concert at school? Don’t miss it, even if you have to beg out of a church or business meeting. Daughter’s soccer game? Go.

Now, I don’t believe you have to be at EVERY soccer game or program—I believe kids shouldn’t expect that, they should play the game or instrument because they love it, not to entertain parents—but be there as often as you can, and especially for the big ones. This season of your life passes, all too soon, too (remember my marching band retrospective of a few weeks ago? Yes, we tried to go to all the big ones.)

Each day of fall,



P1030026and summer,


brings a scene that I wish to grab and preserve in my memory bank, with words and photos. Even though I’m not an expert, it’s fun trying to improve my game here. And I enjoy learning tricks from others who are at the top of their game—such as how early morning and evening light plays marvelously in photos.

Whatever it is—grab life—and a photo, now.

The words of “The Preacher” come to mind: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what was planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 2b)



Have you ever not taken a photo you really wished you had?
Or not taken advantage of an opportunity that you later regretted?


Photographers whose scenery photography I enjoy:

One of my Facebook friends and former work colleague, Jim L. Bowman, a professional photographer and videographer who used to work for a large city TV station who Mennonite Media hired to work on several documentaries (and I got to work with on Embracing Aging). posts an intriguing new photo and quote every day on his Facebook feed—unusual angles on every day life, many of the sort that are here today, gone tomorrow. Jim’s photography website is here but I understand that now he only updates his Facebook page using his photography and related quotes. Another professional colleague and columnist/blogger, Bruce Stambaugh in eastern Ohio uses gorgeous photography on his blog. John Churchman, a friend of my husband’s in childhood, whose family have been longtime members of our church, is another FB friend whose stunning photos I enjoy sampling. You can check out his photography at his Brickhouse Studios website. Then there is Bradley Striebig who took our family photos which I shared here.

* Yes, there’s an unseemly dark blotch on the photo. I need to get the camera cleaned, for crying out loud. But I’m afraid I’ll miss a photo op! Working on it!


From → Faith, Family Life, Nature

  1. Like you, the visual and verbal go hand in hand, adding photos to blog posts. Your sentence resonated strongly with me: Now as I think about topics and what I want to say or write about, I weigh carefully: well, do I have photos for that?

    And I subscribe to the notion, “Don’t wait; do it now!” How glad I am to have had a whole year of blogging with many posts featuring my mother. If I hadn’t visited her in June, I would have missed the butter churning episodes and a whole final chapter of her life. I believe you have seen it, but here is the post again:

    Melodie, I think you’ll have to ask Santa for a smartphone – you’ll love it. As always, your photos are lovely and so a props today.

  2. Yes, I did read your butter post and loved that you were able to do that with her. A good example of “do it now.”

    Are you saying you have only being blogging a year?? And yes, the smartphone is probably at the top of my list, along with a hope that I’ll be smart enough to use it.

    • Dear Smart Lady, I have been blogging about 1 1/2 years now and enjoy it immensely.

      You’ll love the accessibility of a smartphone – more pictures to post!

  3. Yes! Do it now! I too love the combination of image and word, especially when I’ve saved old photos into a blog or book. I love my iPhone for the way it teaches me to look for opportunities to frame reality in ways “worth a thousand words.”

    My brother, a major character in my memoir, took photos in his teen years that were essential to my book and now has taken up the camera again. I also learned, by looking at photos my mother took, that she had a good eye for composition. Some of her Brownie photos are quite good.

    Here’s a sampling from brother Henry, who is currently taking photos on safari in Kenya!

  4. You are encouraging me to follow my own advice to do it now! Thanks. The plans are so complex, the options so diverse, the prices so high (except for the low cost ones, and do I want to live with those drawbacks) and the reception so scattered out where I live that all of these things have me dragging my feet. But thanks for the encouragement and I’d love the video ops too on most phones. Thanks also for the link to your brother’s photos. I will take a look!

    • Athanasia permalink

      I recently bought an iPhone. It was all of 1¢ . It was an older model and it is great. We always had poor cell reception out here on our old phone but this is very good…something about a 3G network. You do have to pay for the data plan but that is reasonable, I feel. We can make use of it also in my husband’s business. The camera takes very nice pictures.

  5. Caro-Claire Wiles permalink

    I am so thankful that I have always taken lots of pictures through the years although it is only in these later years that I have had good cameras.

    I do not have a smart phone but aside from my best camera, i also have a very nice small one that I also always carry in my purse whenever we are travelling.

    My husband is so very good at indulging me if we have to turn around or stop to get a special shot.

    We will also be traveling next week to celebrate the first birthday of our 5th great grandson so we do try to follow the “do it now” principal!

    • And I’m thankful you’re feeling well enough to post a comment! Haven’t heard from you in a bit. A nice purse size camera is a great thing to tuck in a purse–and I will have to say my husband doesn’t hesitate to stop either if I see something I want to grab! Go granny go–to your great grand’s 1st bday too! Blessings…

      • Caro-Claire Wiles permalink

        Last weekend we helped to celebrate the 3rd birthday of our #3rd great grandson. That was the day of my “pratfall” but I still managed to get lots of pix with all the were there !

  6. Yes, a wonderful reminder that life is to be lived in the present. I’ve used photography as a contemplative practice for several years now to practice being present. I encourage anyone who is intrigued to follow your advice, “Whatever it is—grab life—and a photo, now.” I love that you posted an imperfect photograph. The photographs don’t have to be perfect, only a record of the present moment!
    Kathleen (

    • Kathleen, this means a great great deal to me. Always nice to hear from a new commenter. A Facebook friend and Christian Century editor wrote recently on FB about how some folks don’t feel like they’ve lived an experience until they share and post a photo on FB. While that can go too far, I get that it is in sharing our stories and experiences that we process life. I’d like to know more about using photography as a contemplative practice so I will head to thy blog!! Thanks.

    • Caro-Claire Wiles permalink

      So true that the photos do not have to be perfect but often just looking back at them brings back the whole memory of the occassion.

  7. Athanasia permalink

    I love to see pictures in the blogs I read…doesn’t have to be fantastically posed or scenically spectacular…just a glimpse into another’s everyday world. I like the photographs of Galen Frysinger , “the Adventure Traveler” . I’m partial to his Wisconsin photos and his historical and genealogical reminisces.

    • I’ll check out The Adventure Traveler. Wisconsin is one state I haven’t been too, which might be unusual for a former Hoosier. I’ve been to around 47 and Wisconsin is still on my list. But yes, I don’t have a lot of use for stock generic photo illustrations, much prefer personal. Thanks for your comment!

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