A Week of Wondrous Celebrations

This week marks several wondrous celebrations. For starters, tomorrow is Chinese New Year. Welcome, my friends, to the year of the monkey. If that were not enough, Tuesday is Fat Tuesday or the height of carnivale in New Orleans and other points. This year, I would be remiss if I did not send a special shout out to Bobbi Lane and David Nightingale (aka Chromasia) who are off photographing the Carnivale in Venice. Following these two on Facebook and social media has really demonstrated how lovely the celebrations in Venice can be, as they are producing some fantastic work documenting the festivities. I really wish I were off shooting with them and love seeing the subject in these very capable hands.

What is it about celebrations such as the ones this week that make us take out the cameras? There’s something very appealing about pageantry and costumes. They allow us to both hide parts of ourselves and to reveal plenty. In this image, you can tell there is a man inside that puppet. There’s a man in there and, quite frankly, he’s almost frighteningly familiar with a cigarette lighter (of sorts) as he was able to make lots of fire on short notice. All well and good, as I did not get too close, but you can guess a few things about him, even without being able to see his face. For starters, you can probably guess he is either Chinese or of Chinese origin, as he was participating in a Chinese new year celebration in Austin. Next up, tradition is import to him-you can tell by the way he works the puppets. There’s just so much revelation under that puppet and yet you have no idea what his face looks like.

In some ways, you don’t have to know. I think it’s more powerful to not know, to actually imagine what he might look like or what his life might be like. Can you imagine him going to work or to school? Do you think he has children? Do you think he practices his puppet working skills (I can tell you for certain, he does in fact do that but then, I cheated and actually spoke to him.) Even without me telling you the details you can fill in the blanks.

Celebrations do this. They give us our heritage, our history. It’s the same history that helps forge us, helps make us who we have become and defines who we might be. We get a lot of traits from our upbringing, from our family, from our culture, and celebrations put this on display. It’s little wonder they are photographed so much, as they help define who we are, who we might become, who our children are going to be, and the like. Family, traditions, heritage, culture, it’s almost too easy to commit these things to film (or digital camera sensor as the case may be, though that does not sound nearly as romantic.)

So, yes, this week we mark celebrations of all sorts. I hope you have your camera ready and make the most of these treasured celebrations.

Until next time…

(This image from the archives.)

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