A photograph by Sean

Sean took this a few years ago, in an outhouse across the road from us. The hand is that of his friend Aaron, I think. They had raised some dust, which gave an unusual effect. The old man who lived in the house had died some years previously, just before Christmas.

Many of the photos Sean took have probably been irretrievably lost … those that we have I shall post over a period of time. Some, we think, were on a battered disk drive that he used to take to college, which was probably discarded. He took some good ones of members of a Virginia rock band, for its promotional use. He also did the photography for a CD by a singer-songwriter.

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39 Comments

Filed under Death, Photography

39 responses to “A photograph by Sean

  1. Breathtakingly beautiful interplay of darkness and light. One could read so much symbolism into the outreached hand. One might imagine one of Plato’s cave dwellers seeing light for the first time.

    • Hello again, nothingprofound. Yes, I think it does seem very symbolic. Sean sometimes liked to experiment with his photography; just before he died he was saying that he would start to do so again. I think he certainly had a natural talent for it. He would have been 16 when he took this.

  2. Marya

    It is an excellent photo, Brendan …. I think it lays itself open to many interpretations from the haunting to the sublime .. it could illustrate the lines from T.S.Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’ ..

    ‘I will show you fear in a handful of dust’

    perhaps the boys were sensitive to the atmosphere in that old outhouse ..

    or with the light cutting through the darkness and the dust, it could seem to be an echo of Michelangelo’s ‘hand of God’ … in the Sistine Chapel

    Marya x

  3. Nobby

    Great photograph Brendan. It would make a good film poster or book cover.

  4. papaguinea

    Everytime I see this photo I think it is by some famous artist! I forget Sean took it! Certainly not by someone so young as Sean. For me it could be a picture illustrating a text from a bible, or a sign of hope from sitting one in a prison cell. Is it a picture of God looking ‘on’ or God looking ‘in’. It is a transforming light, lighting up the darkness – is it God saying “yes, I am with you” and is God the light of love or the ‘hand’ itself. A very interesting picture and I wonder what Sean himself would have said! Sometimes the photographer captures something without realising the depth that image holds. But the way this image is aligned it looks like Sean recognised an echo of Michaelangelo’s ‘hand of God’ as Marya so remarks. Either way I think Sean was a Master Craftsman!

  5. Wow. Such a stunning composition. I immediately interpreted it as religious, just as Papa G has. Heavenly light falling on to an outstretched hand in a dark cell. The light could represent God, belief and hope. I’m thinking of Terry Waite’s ordeal.

    It is an exceptional photograph.

    • Hi Janh … I’m very glad you like it. Yes, it could represent all sorts of things. Perhaps if I ever publish a novel, say, I will use it for the cover as Nobby suggests.

      When I look out my office window during the daytime, I see the little window from the outside … an entirely different aspect.

      • Cymbeline

        I like the twist of you seeing the same window from the outside.

        • Yes … I’ve seen it and gone past it thousands of times, and might never have thought of it any other way.

          It’s in an outhouse to a humble dwelling … an old farm-labourer’s cottage.

        • Cymbeline

          What else do you know of the building’s history?

        • It’s probably pre-Famine … very thick walls, which was the old style. Typical of our area.

          A good deal is known of the history of our area (lists of names etc.) but not so much of individual houses. The people who lived in that house may have worked in the small linen factory that stood on the plot of land where our house is now.

          The man we knew who lived there never married … he looked after his parents in their old age, and they lived to be very old. A neighbour of ours who looked after him found him dead there one day.

          We sometimes gave him his dinner when the people that normally looked after him were away. He was a nice old fellow, and had lived a hard life.

        • Cymbeline

          Imagine if you could illustrate that old fellow’s life with all the music he loved, pictures of his life and loves, descriptions and anecdotes of how he was as a child and growing up, how his parents loved him, his first love etc.

        • Yes. I don’t know about any loves, though … our neighbour, who knew him well, suggested that the closest he ever got to any woman was an accidental grapple with a female vet.

          He was a man who washed perhaps once a year, whether he needed to or not. A black man by tint, though not race.

        • Cymbeline

          Cruel piece of writing.

        • Cymbeline

          Judge not what ye do not know.

        • It’s meant in a good-hearted way, Cymbeline … we liked Ned and were good to him. Sean used to stand at his gate and chat to him, although he was not a talkative man.

          It was bawdy country humour on our neighbour’s part. He and his wife were extremely good to Ned.

          And the complexion part is true of Ned and some other old bachelor farmers.

        • Cymbeline

          And is that all you know about Ned?

          I thought (i.e. you have mercilessly drummed it into me and others)that the sense of community was an important aspect of rural Ireland.

        • It is, and he was very well looked after by the community. But, as I said, he was not a talkative man … when I visited him he did not tell me much about himself.

        • Cymbeline

          Yes. Sometimes people wish to be private. Nothing wrong with that.

        • Cymbeline

          And his life is no less important than any other.

        • Of course. I never suggested that it was.

        • Cymbeline

          So think. This man who died a bachelor and who was mocked for his ‘tint’ …. who was he really? A baby once, a child. He looked after his parents until their death. Imagine that sort of love and sacrifice.

        • Mocked by whom?

          You are making false assumptions.

          I’m off to bed … goodnight.

        • Cymbeline

          All I have tried to do is think about the life and colour that may have once existed among those walls, before those two boys took a photograph.

  6. Cymbeline

    Hello Brendano, and others.

    The heavenly, the earthly, and mankind as part of both.

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