Wednesday, February 19, 2014

When a bad picture is a good picture

This picture has been a fixture on my various work desks over the last twelve years. What is curious, however, is that no one has ever asked my why I have a photo of a water tower on display.

It was shot on September 25, 2002, with my first digital camera, a Canon Powershot S100 (the first one made back in 2001... there is another camera of the same name and model made in 2011!). The little camera was capable of two-megabytes of jpeg quality, and to make matters even more challenging, this is a small crop of the original exposure. The photo was ratty enough that I have now run it though a Topaz plug-in to mask the limitations of the low quality image. The resulting photo has a retro, almost postcard quality that I enjoy... but I don't think anyone would ever claim it is a technically good picture (click the picture to see it bigger and badder).

So why do I keep this picture on my desk?

It is to me a reminder that good things can happen even when you become convinced that they will not.

I had lost my job of almost 30 years due to a company reduction-in-force... a layoff. Being fifty years old and having only worked for one company for almost all of my career, I did not have much luck finding new employment. In fact after searching for almost seven months I became convinced that no respectable employment would ever be offered to me.

But in time a good opportunity did materialize. This photo was shot across the parking lot of the new office during my first week on the job. I was really lucky.

My new job lasted for ten years, and then though another twist of fate, I was again out of work before I was ready to retire. Once again luck smiled on me and I found another great job which I have been at for almost two years now.

So this little picture has been a totem for me, reminding me that good opportunities are always possible, with a bit of luck, and sufficient persistence.


  1. This makes me think about what makes a good photo. If asked a lot of folks might say composition, craftsmanship, story telling ability, tone, technical accomplishment. But what many don't realize might be that a particular photo has the most value just to the photographer or someone close, an ethereal quality not easily defined. Like this.

  2. Cool story John and I do like the picture, especially "bigger and badder". There's something appealing about it. I would even say there is something artistic about it.