by Shawna Brown

The first time I saw it, I could not take my eyes off of it. There was something about the little girl in the photograph that was charmingly simplistic yet complex at the same time. Her eyes were playful but the expression on her face was placid and thoughtful. Her hair was wild and childlike, as if she had just stopped playing tag for a quick shot by mom.
I hadn’t seen a glimpse of this girl in years but the moment I laid my eyes on the worn photograph, I felt as if, just looking at the photograph, staring into her innocent eyes, I was a child once again. I was six-years-old when the picture was taken—small and vulnerable, yet proud and ambitious.
I clearly remember the first time I held a camera; my dad gently handed me the camera with the utmost care, warning me to be careful with the delicate object. Ever since that day, the black plastic box I held in my hands has remained one of my most precious possessions; I would guard that camera with my life.
The joy it created and the memories the camera set in stone, were irreplaceable. The plastic film held my soul; images that held passion, hope, and ambition were embedded in the flimsy plastic roll.
I love photographs; for me, a picture really is worth a thousand words. The harsh contrasts, palpable textures, artistic shadows and memorable images fascinate me.
As Aaron Siskind put it, “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever; it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
We open our eyes only hours after our birth, and from that moment on, we cannot take enough of the world in. We are always searching for more; taking in the appearance of our families, our homes, and our own faces.
The changing colors of leaves in the fall mark the change of season; a picturesque landscapes lit by an aching sunset marks the end of a long day; a smile resting on the approving face of our elders marks our small but ever-present achievements.
Whether it is just a glance or a long placid stare, a single look can provide all the information we could ever need. It is fascinating that a single moment in time can have such a profound affect on the remainder of our lives.
The little girl in that photograph gave me confidence. She brought to me a youthful and more optimistic perspective. She is my alter ego, the person I take a moment to become when I let my childlike qualities take over.
It is not a desire to go back in time that fuels my love for this photograph, but something deeper. It fuels a remembrance and an inspiring memory that at one time, my worries were as minimal; my life, as simplistic; and my ambitions as boundless as those lively green eyes.