When the Story is Only Personal

Photo by Joey Spadoni

This is a throwaway shot. Joey picked up my camera while we were driving someplace and snapped away, probably to test a feature or to have a general play with the gear. It wasn’t meant to mean anything… or even to be saved for posterity… let alone posted by his father on our blog.

But when I saw the image, I was immediately struck by the personal story it told. A story that no one, no one, but me will get. This can happen sometimes. The best images to me are the ones that invoke some type of story, draw a viewer in and make them wonder about what is happening and why. It’s the most succinct form of narrative we possess. No words. Visual only. A moment in time. Yet there is story in there.

Here’s mine.

I recently went shopping for a new car. I narrowed the list down and decided to test a few. Eventually, there was one on the list I wanted. A Honda product. But, Honda has gone to push button transmissions and the stick shifter is now gone in most (maybe all?) of their cars. Through the many long years I have been driving, I have become quite accustomed to keeping my right hand on the shifter basically at all times. It’s habit. Habits can be broken, I know.

When I drove the car I wanted, I didn’t know what to do with my right hand. Put it on the steering wheel in the two o’clock position – you know… where it’s supposed to be, they said. And that’s not a comfort thing, it’s a safety thing. So I tried. But it felt weird. I felt a strange and lingering inner conflict between wanting that car and not feeling comfortable with my right hand not on a shifter.

So, I bought a different car instead. The image above is of me driving it. It’s a fine car and we’re strictly in first-world-problem territory here. I get that. But when I see this image, I see me firmly and decisively holding onto that shifter, as is my custom, but with some intensity, ferocity even. I see the resolve of my decision making and the comfort I feel succumbing to a multi-decades old habit. That’s what I see. You don’t see that. No one sees that.

Sometime the story is personal. And that’s ok. It’s one of the reasons we shoot.

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