“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a person love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man’s will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself.”
― Patrick Rothfuss,
What is a name? Names identify objects, people, places, trees, churches, lakes, storms. But names are merely a label. You might treasure the name given to you on the day of your birth, but that name does not define you. Many women assume their husband’s names. Some people choose to legally change their names to something more appealing. But that doesn’t change who they are.
Names change between regions and across languages. Multiple words could be used to name the same object, with only subtle nuances differentiating them.
Names can be as short as a single letter, and Prince showed us one can even be named by a symbol, alone.
But no simple name can capture the essence and true individuality of even the plainest pebble – let alone the vast complexities of a person shaped by years of unique experiences.
I’m actually quite bad with names. And while I can piece together a blog post here and there, I generally leave the true naming to those who have a much firmer grasp on the intimate relationships between the elements of the scenes they’re depicting.
This is why I am a photographer. A photo is worth a thousand words, right? While even a thousand isn’t enough to fully qualify an object, a person, an experience, it comes a lot closer than just a single name.
I have met some extraordinary people, and while I don’t always remember their names, the impressions they leave on me last far longer and mean more than an assortment of representative letters. These folks appear as everyday, average people. But they harbor some magnificent superpowers.
They have an incredible talent for cosplay. They’re wickedly funny. They can wield a hot glue gun like it’s nobody’s business and craft props from garbage. They’ve mastered the dexterity and coordination required of complex games. They are makeup geniuses. They can dance, sing, weave words into elegant paintings of prose. They can make those around them smile at the scene before them and at the thoughts of the event long afterward.
And I’m there to capture it all in a pale representation.
I may not be able to encapsulate these beautiful spirits with a name or even a photograph, but these words and pixels serve as the keys to the memories of these remarkable people and all they truly are.