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Before We Photographed Every Little Thing

we only took pictures of special events. Film was expensive and getting photos developed was even more costly. And we got charged for every photo that was printed--the blurry one, the one of my finger accidentally in the shot, the one that went diagonal, etc.

If I sound like I am bemoaning the past, I am not. Things change.

But we are going to focus on photographs in this week's prompt, as did Judith McCombs in her poem "Advice to the Photographers of Atrocities" which I posted on my blog today.

I assume, from when that poem was published, she most likely wrote her poem about the Vietnam War. This war is considered the first "Televised Conflict," and I certainly remember seeing photographs and videos from that war on the news and in magazines and newspapers. Other images I clearly remember from the 1960s are of the Civil Rights Movement, and the atrocities being played out as various groups of people in this country demanded Equal Rights. There were also books that collected Life Magazine's Best Photos, The Photos That Changed the World, Award-Winning Photography of the 20th Century, and more. Some of the pictures are horrifying, some are beautiful, some are sad, but I can remember many of them specifically, even if I have not seen them in decades.

Your challenge this week is to recall a photograph of an atrocity that you remember; if you cannot think of one, I guarantee you can find one online. If you cannot bear to look at atrocity photos (and no judgement--they are difficult to see for a reason), look for a photo that captures something that is not beautiful or kind or calming. (Of course, if any darkness at all is not for you, find one of those gorgeous photos--annual Nature Photography contests are full of them--and use that as your inspiration.)

Then rather than write an ekphrastic piece, direct your piece to the photographer. You can ask questions, point out what moved you in the photo, express concern, compare and contrast the photo to others, etc. Writing to a being who cannot respond is called an apostrophe (reasons for being unable to talk back with the speaker include being an inanimate object, being dead, being far away, being unknown, and being an animal).

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