Some times a single image is not enough. During the past few days I have been focused on distilling an image into its visual essence. My goal was to convey the significance of the image with just the right amount of detail, no more, no less.

Today’s experiment is a bit different. I unearthed a roll of film that I shot when I visited Mike* at his group home many years ago. Mike liked to be outside, so I took him on a walk around the neighborhood. I was in the midst of my long-term photography project about him, so I had my camera. In addition to walking with Mike, I wanted to get some photos.

I thought it might be nice to walk in a different area of the neighborhood than he was used to, totally forgetting the possibility that it might upset him.  He did get upset. I tried talking to him in a calming way as we approached terrain more familiar to him.

I felt very badly about his upset, but as I talked to him, I took pictures. I feel a bit ashamed now, taking pictures of him while he was in distress, and remember feeling uncomfortable while I was doing it.

Editing is a good thing. Photo editing can clean up an otherwise imperfect shot; sequence editing allows one to arrange a narrative, where one photo will not tell the story.

Photo Montage: A Walk with Mike

A Walk with Mike

Mike was so distraught to begin with. In the second photo, I’m not sure if he is still crying, but his hand is up near his head, a gesture of comfort perhaps. My hand on Mike’s shoulder is not the most prominent visual feature of the third photo, but it fits into the narrative. Finally, as we near home, Mike seems to be ok again.

I don’t remember if it happened this way, although the time sequence of the photos is correct (the leftmost photo was taken first and the rightmost, last). Perhaps I made up this narrative so I would feel better.

My renderings of the first three photos are below:

Pencil Sketch: A Walk with Mike #1

A Walk with Mike #1
9″x12″ 60# Ivory Drawing Paper


Pencil Sketch: A Walk with Mike #2

A Walk with Mike #2
9″x12″ 60# Ivory Drawing Paper


Pencil Sketch: A Walk with Mike #2

A Walk with Mike #3
9″x12″ 60# Ivory Drawing Paper

* Mike was diagnosed with autism and “profound retardation” in the 1950s. He has never spoken.


3 thoughts on “Editing

  1. Oh dear. I know this sequence of upset too. Autism is so difficult to understand sometimes. Sometimes though I wonder if bringing them into our world even though it is upsetting is also part of the role of being involved in caring for people on the spectrum.


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