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The Photograph

Written by Liz Crow
Qualitative Inquiry, November 2013

Abstract and extract:

The Photograph is a narrative inquiry that explores the significance of a photograph that has exerted a hold over me for several years. A single glance, like running a finger along the amassed spines of well-loved novels, tumbles me instantly into memory. Yet, over time I have realized there is more than nostalgia to this photograph’s hold. Like those novels, this photograph holds its own fiction, yet through that fiction it also carries profound truths about how life might be lived. As I live alongside it, I find the photograph unfolding to another, deeper level of meaning that shifts and changes through time, representing a self in flux and guiding a journey through the themes of my life. In telling the story of another, I find that the photograph contains my own narrative too.

On my window ledge, for almost a decade now, has sat a photograph, black-and-white with a primrose-yellow mount, all framed in pine: a young couple in 1930s dress stand happy and ill at ease in equal measure, the stone buttress of a church and its high carved wooden door open behind them, newlyweds posing for their first photograph in marriage. She wears a calf-length dress, simple in design, a small hat with a lightly jeweled veil perched upon her head, a tumbling bouquet of ivy and lily-of-the-valley held tightly in her hands. Turned between husband and camera, she tilts her head back a little and smiles her joy. He stands facing front, tucked just a little behind his new wife, short hair neatly pressed, well-worn shoes shiny, and a just-too-big suit falling across the back of his hands where his fingers curl their nervousness. His smile is warm and wide and gauche, and they are both oh-so very young.

Occasionally, a visitor will glance at this photograph on the window ledge and ask whether they are my grandparents. I have always answered no—no, this is not family, this is not real. Only now, with the passing of time, I am not so sure…


To read the full text, please download the PDF below.

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To cite this page: Crow, Liz (2013) The Photograph, Roaring Girl Productions [online] [Available at:] [Accessed 30/05/2024]