Thoughts Behind A Silhouette

The word ‘silhouette’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as:

‘The dark shape and outline of someone or something visible in restricted light against a brighter background.’

This week, we’re asked to post a photograph showing a silhouette for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

I’m sure I’ve taken plenty of photographs unintentionally showing silhouettes and certainly not because I know what I’m doing with the light or anything else.  But the one thing I do at least know as an amateur photographer is to make sure that the sun is always behind me so as not to shoot directly into it.

Sometimes though the lighting,  sunlight or not, doesn’t come into it:  what does, is the emotion that washes all technical thoughts away as we want only to capture an exact moment knowing that in an instant, it will be lost forever.

We want only to have the tangible memory of that moment as proof that it really did happen. No matter what, we want that photograph so we have the camera at the ready for that perfect, natural pose irregardless of the less than perfect external conditions.  In other words, we simply grab our camera, point and shoot and hope for the best.

This is how I felt when I snapped this shot of my daughter during a visit to Sea World in San Diego, California in June, 2003, only a couple of months before we left California for our new life in England. This was the last family holiday I was to take with my three children together and just before the family life we had known changed irrevocably.

I didn’t know how it would look until the film was developed since it was taken on a 35mm Kodak.

I hoped for the best.

My daughter at Sea World, San Diego CA, 2003 (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

My daughter at Sea World, San Diego CA, 2003
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

She was entranced by the slow, graceful motion of the beluga whales as they glided through the deep, blue waters of their huge aquarium.  Lost in thought, touching the glass as if to somehow connect with the fluidity and calmness of their water-world, I wonder what flowed through her mind?  Did she long for the same, weightless escape as she imagined their freedom to inspire?  Or did she just enjoy the cool of the glass against the heat of the day as she revelled in the carefree antics of these peaceful creatures?

I can only guess at my little girl’s dreams as I gaze at her silhouette.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
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75 Responses to Thoughts Behind A Silhouette

  1. Steve Rebus says:

    Wow, Sherri this photo is stunning!! Love this post! 🙂

    Like

  2. cardamone5 says:

    Beautiful, Sherri!

    Like

  3. Luanne says:

    Sherri, what a beautiful photograph and what a lovely exploration of what is going on in the photo. Brava!!

    Like

  4. What a lovely moment you’ve captured of your daughter. The silhouette effect seems to portray the beluga and your daughter as the only two beings in the world. Like they’re communicating. Yes, makes you wonder what’s going through her mind. What is the hand on the glass about. What a capture! ❤

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  5. That is a beautiful photo, Sherri. Does Aspie D remember when you took it? I love it! xo

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thanks so much Jill, as always I love your enthusiasm for these challenge posts and I was so pleased to have the opportunity to share this photo of Aspie D. I’ll have to ask her if she remembers and let you know! She always loved the water but something about this particular sight absorbed her. You can see why I so hoped the photo would come out despite the low lighting and my very basic camera! I loved my old Kodak 🙂 xoxo

      Like

      • As I looked at the photo, I kept wondering if she remembered that moment in time and what was she thinking.
        Oh yes, Sherri…bring back the Kodak! It was so user friendly. 🙂

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        I asked her Jill but although she remembers going to Sea World, she doesn’t remember this particular moment. I tried to get inside her head as I studied this photo and write down what she might have been thinking…I certainly remember her being totally absorbed in the moment…
        Yes, user-friendly Kodak – wonderful 😉 xo

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  6. krithya G says:

    Beautiful capture! Love those pigtails. I feel they add to the inherent innocence in the composition. (and remind me of my childhood too :))

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving your lovely comment. Ahh yes, those pigtails! I remember how much I loved playing with my daughter’s hair having had two boys before her. She tolerated it, let’s put it that way 😉

      Like

  7. Beautiful photo Sherri.

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  8. A really perfect silhouette image, Sherri. I feel the sense of awe that your daughter was feeling. 🙂 xx

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks so much Sylvia 🙂 She really was in awe of these belugas and I’m so glad that you felt that too from the photo. I was so pleased that it came out as I wasn’t sure at the time with my old Kodak. I loved that camera and still have boxes full of photos to scan in …some day *sigh* 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. jennypellett says:

    That’s a great photo and knowing what we do about your lovely daughter, a very poignant one. It could well serve as a book cover about C’s condition. Ever thought about that one Sherri? After you complete your memoir, of course. No pressure!

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    • Sherri says:

      Hmmm…well now, gosh, thanks Jenny, there’s a thought! You’ve really got me thinking now… No pressure, of course not! Only from myself when I get my bad days and think what on earth am I doing? o_O This I will be pondering…you just never know. 😉

      Like

  10. You captured a special moment in time, Sherri, a multi-silhouetted life truth. Your daughter’s hand against the glass portrays it eloquently–reaching for something she alone can see–or possibly hope for or imagine. The little girl body, the braided hair, the reach for the smooth beauty and movement on the other side of the glass.
    In one picture you’ve captured it all…you’re a gifted story teller as both a writer and a photographer. Brava!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I struggled this week Marylin and in the end went with this post as this was the photo that called out to me, even though initially I wasn’t going to do the challenge. I’m late as it is. So to read the summary of your thoughts makes my heart sing, thank you so much… 🙂

      Like

  11. Heyjude says:

    A lovely poignant shot Sherri – I like the plaits, the hand reaching out to the whale, and the way you have positioned her to the side of the image. I’d make a couple of tweaks to it by shaving off the black line at the side and also increasing the levels so that the silhouette is darker and the whale also clearer, but it is a very powerful photo.

    Like

  12. I love this image! It is so beautiful! to me; What a treasure!

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  13. So sweet! I have many of those Sea World shots and there is definitely something amazing, graceful and delicate in those moments 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hello Connie, thank you very much for dropping by and leaving your lovely comment. Sea World is an amazing place isn’t it? We lived in CA for almost 20 years and in all that time we never went to Sea World but I was determined that if there was one thing we would do before moving back to the UK, it would be to go to San Diego! We did the zoo and the wild animal safari park too. It was a vacation the kids and I treasure in our memories to this day and I’m so glad that you have your lovely memories of it too 🙂

      Like

  14. restlessjo says:

    I love it! 🙂 I knew you’d get there, Sherri! I have a rathet nice silhouette of the Louvre but it’s just a little late for posting now. It’ll keep (along with the 1000 shots I took in Paris) :). Sssh- almost caught up 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yes Jo, I made it by the skin of my teeth…and even up to the last moment I was umming and ahhing about what post to do but in the end I had to share this photo. Phew 🙂 I’m learning to listen to the writing/photo voice that shouts the loudest! I’m heading over to you now at long last and I’m sure you’ll have ample opportunity to show your other Paris shots but meanwhile…so glad you’ve caught up…almost… 😉

      Like

  15. Ste J says:

    Film that had to be developed, that was always fraught with danger, will it survive developing, will it get lost at the developers…I’m glad that it worked and that now you can look at it with a critical eye and find new thoughts that perhaps didn’t occur at the time. It opens up a new world of analysis for me which makes me happy.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh yes, the stress of film developing. When I lived in the States I used to take mine into the local ‘drug store’ (had trouble getting my head around that when I first moved there until I realised that it meant a chemist, ha!) which did special offers, as in two sets of prints for the price of one. This was great because I was able to send copies to my mum living back in England of the kids. I must have spent a fortune on postage back then but somehow it didn’t seem so prohibitive as it does now. For a few extra dollars I could also get them developed overnight! Oh the joy, just think what that must have been like, not having to wait a few days, or even a week, but just one night, wow!! Of course that sounds like the wait of a lifetime compared to the instantaneous digital world we live in today…
      I love looking at these old photos and then writing ‘to’ them. A new world of analysis it is and I’m happy that you’re happy…thanks Ste 🙂

      Like

  16. jenniferkmarsh says:

    Gorgeous post, Sherri, as always. Water has a way of enchanting people, certainly..

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    • Sherri says:

      It really does doesn’t it…I love the peace and quite that exudes from this moment and I remember it quite well, even though my daughter doesn’t 😉 Thank you as always dear Jenny Jen Jen and I hope you are feeling better and enjoying a lovely weekend… ❤

      Like

      • jenniferkmarsh says:

        Ah well, parents are bound to remember the simple moments differently to their children, no? 🙂
        Thanks Sherri P, I’m better now! So yay! x

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      • Sherri says:

        True that! Ahh…so glad lovely Jenny Jen Jen, very happy to hear that and I do hope you enjoyed a lovely long weekend…it rained, just for you 😀 xx

        Like

  17. thirdhandart says:

    An outstanding silhouette Sherri… perfectly composed. What a wonderful capture of innocence, inner peace and wonder. In addition to your excellent writing abilities, I think that you have a natural sense of artistic expression.
    And I agree with Jenny, this photo would make a great book cover…

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I’m always so thrilled with your commentary of my photos Theresa, coming from you I always take it as a huge compliment and I am also so thankful for your encouragement of my writing because lately I’ve been a bit down on myself with it all. But it is great to be able to let our creative juices flow on our blogs isn’t it? As for the book cover, I can only repeat my response to Jenny…and I should also add many thanks to you both for the idea 😉 I hope you have a great weekend and things start to calm down for you soon… 🙂

      Like

  18. Moving memory and lovely photo, Sherri.

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  19. Great image Sherri – it could mean so many different things – there’s a sense of longing there, but it could also just be peace. A powerful image to set off the imagination…

    Like

  20. mihrank says:

    This is great and wonderful image Sherri – This brings many valuable understandings~

    Like

  21. mumblypeg says:

    Another sensitive and delightful post with such an emotive photo. Another feather in your cap girl!!! I love it all. Blessings xx M

    Like

  22. Lovely silhouette Sherri and the post said it all. Well done. I have never been to one of these aquariums but I think I would get lost in the underwater water world feeling part of it. We have three fish tanks and I can sit and stare for hours where the television puts me to sleep in seconds. Strange as in reality they are both boxes we stare at. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Irene, and how wonderful that you have three fish tanks! We always had one when the kids were growing up, going from a huge one all the way down to a tiny globe-like one over the years! They are so relaxing and beautiful to watch and I know just what you mean about staring at them rather than the television…I do just the same 😉 You would love these big aquariums, I can see you now just as with my daughter, hand on glass, lost in deep thought, your mind filled with all kind of imaginings…a lovely thought 🙂

      Like

  23. mariekeates says:

    The thing about photos and rules is…basically ignore them and take what you want. Half my photos are taken directly into the sun and often they’re the best ones.

    Like

  24. An exquisite photo, and the kind of memory that tugs at a mother’s heart.

    Like

  25. I love how you captured this moment in time. The scene of her looking out into the vast blue is kind of poetic yet reminds me of all my family treks there with my parents and eventually my kids. Really beautiful Sherri!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thank you Lilka! I was so happy to be able to capture it, especially as I wasn’t sure if the shot would come out or not. I remember watching her as she stood there, hand on glass, lost in thought. A great place to go as a kid and with our own kids 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Ah, the olden days of film, when one hoped for the best, instead of being instantly gratified. In connection with your silhouette photo and the fact that you daughter was entranced by the beluga whales, I give you this humorous video gem: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/video/playful-beluga-whale-teases-kids-100033813.html?.tsrc=yahoo.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh that’s just brilliant, thank you so much BT for sharing the link! Priceless to see the beluga interacting with the kids like that and pretending not to see them coming back. Wonderful, love it 🙂

      Like

  27. Denise says:

    Nice picture and a lot of skill there on a pre-digital picture.

    I think that sea life atmosphere is very peaceful and calming and attractive to all of us for those reasons. Maybe it is an atmosphere that is a welcome retreat for someone who suffers all too easily from sensory overload.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Denise, glad you like it and I think you’re right, definitely the atmosphere of the calming waters and the smoothness of the whales, belugas being renowned for their peaceful motion, provides for a great deal of relief, particularly when the experience of going to any kind of park like this is one of sensory overload in every other way. I remember it being cool inside and C would have liked that too, never doing well in the heat despite being a California girl! But yes, as you say, a welcome retreat for us all, and a wonderful experience 🙂

      Like

  28. Norah says:

    This is such a gorgeous shot, and I love the way you have explored the emotions behind it. It’s lovely to pop over to your blog, too, and see what you have been up to. Thanks for visiting mine. 🙂

    Like

  29. Letizia says:

    What a beautiful photograph! I miss taking photos with a traditional camera at times… waiting to see how the photo will turn out. That anticipation was quite rewarding (or sometimes there was disappointment but that was ok too).

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Letizia and thanks so much! Those were the days weren’t they? There was something very rewarding about the anticipation, going to collect the envelope of photographs and looking through them excitedly to see if there was at least one decent one! As you say, often there was disappointment but then that made it all the more special when a good one turned up 😉

      Like

  30. Great photo and it is a wonderful memory as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. What a beautiful post and special photo! How precious that you captured your daughter so enthralled in the moment. I can see staring at the photo for hours and imagining what she was thinking at the time. Or as you so eloquently put it, was she just enjoying the cool of the glass? What a powerful photo, Sherri! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      So glad you enjoyed it Maria, thank you very much! Who knew that these old family photos would come to the fore for these challenges? I love the memories they bring back and then having the opportunity to interpret them with the benefit of the passage of time…never know what might come to mind 🙂 ❤

      Like

  32. Charli Mills says:

    I’m standing in agreement with many when I say this photo is stunning! It’s the emotive character of the moment that really deepens a shot like this. And that is true about writing. We can always improve technical craft, but it’s a writers innate ability to capture a moment with words that moves people. Good stuff!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I enjoy these photo challenges for this very reason Charli. I had no idea that one day I would be posting these old family pics but it certainly does get those creative juices flowing and also helps me remember all the things that were good. Thank you very much, I’m really glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      Like

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