It’s graduation season, or rather it was graduation season. Cameras were flashing, or rather phones were flashing. Man, me and my big, old camera lens are starting to stick out more and more when I go out on assignment. At least I’m not using actual film.
My mother did for a long time. She got a camera for a wedding present in the late ’70s and by the time I graduated high school, we were starting to see the same camera model in antique store displays. I was always impressed with how she could get the photo no matter the lighting conditions. She knew her f-stops cold and could adjust her settings in the dark — literally. Me, not so much.
Automation comes with every advance in technology. I know where the switches and dials are on my camera. I know what they do and I know when to adjust them but I’m still no match for high school gymnasium lighting – which was exactly what I was up against these last few weekends.
Nearly everybody marching in to “Pomp and Circumstance” is blurry. If you’re in the audience, you’re crystal clear. So, I’m sorry there weren’t more of those in the paper. A flash probably would have done it, but, with my luck, I probably would have blinded a graduate, who would have tripped, started a domino chain reaction and ultimately caused someone’s grandma to break her hip and have to be rushed to the emergency room.
Luckily, there is one moment I can always count on at some point during a graduation. That is a hug. You may not realize this, but everyone freezes for almost the same interval during a hug. It’s very predictable. It makes my job a lot easier. People literally don’t move for at least a full second when they hug someone. That’s all I need for the shot, if I see it coming.
This year, though, I started wondering why we are so predictable in this. My only thought is that it’s a socially understood commonality. It’s like a word. We all know what it means. We all know how to pronounce it. We know when it’s out of context. Yet, if I tried to complete the comparison and tell you the words a hug conveys, it would fall short.
Somehow we all know what it means.
Like I said, there are plenty of them on graduation day and thank goodness for them. Otherwise, those grad pages would be unbearably blurry.