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capturing the moment

How a Halloween costume morphed into an iconic image on the planet.

Story behind the image

I have taken some really bad pictures in my time. I have also taken some really good ones. In either case I have always considered myself more of a digital artist than a photographer. Even now that my photo work has been published in multiple forms, I am reluctant to call myself a photographer. One thing I know I am good at however...

recognizing a unique shot when I see it.

And that is how it is sometimes. As much as you try to stage great photos, some of the best, most emotive or ironic come at the most inconvienient times.

Just ask my son.

Like many moms I have made my share of Halloween costumes, but as things go, eventually your kids grow up and you become a secondary player from sewing every stich to just assisting with the make-up. The costumes mature as the child does, from clown or pumkin at age 2 to some sort of super hero at age 7 (ours was a Power Ranger) to the more nuanced characters from popular movies, etc.

This year it was Blue Man.

And in typical fashion the preparation ensues followed by the antics and humor (caught on film here with my two guys) again followed by the departure to a Halloween party at youth group with some trick-or-treating. All good fun.

But for me, the real fun happened after the festivities were over.

Daniel came home and began to remove his costume. As is typical with any Halloween make-up it is great the minute you put it on, but about half an hour later it is cracked, partially rubbed off and itches. So having spent an evening in the stuff, Daniel was ready to get it off of his face. Pronto.

And these are the moments where moms get really annoying.

As he began to remove the costume starting with the skull cap, I suddenly saw something visually unique. With his light blonde hair contrasting with the bright blue face paint he struck my as some sort of mixed up aboriginal. It was weird but also made an interesting statement. For a split second I almost let the whole thing go, shrugging it off like it was nothing special, and really not wanting to impose. Then I thought again.

Forcing him to wait for the relief of a wash cloth and some soap I grabbed him and my camera and stood him under a hall light and began to snap. Being a really good sport he endured me snapping away with my digital, posing him slightly and saying... “just one more” about ten times.

It isn’t just recognizing the moment. It is acting on it that is sometimes the hard part. I am so glad I did. Although this series of pictures were not great by photographic standards, they gave me some very unique content as a digital artist. This image was later published in a collection by Zondervan, and remains available on the planet.

And to this day it is one of my favorites.

rule to follow:

pay attention to the moment
and act on it

get this image as well as others from Artist Collections: Caucasian Aboriginal

written by Blair Anderson

As well as being the founder of avisualplanet and one of its artists

Blair is also a contributing author to Christianity Today’s: Gifted for Leadership

photo taken 10/30/01 at 11:03 pm