I remember when…

_ds84808_3“I like to come and sit here, on this bench, every now and then. The river Visp is only a few metres away and I find the sound of the water very calming. And it shuts out all the other noises of Zermatt – the crowds don’t come down here for a start, they are busy spending money in the shops on Bahnhofstrasse!

My legs don’t work as well as they used to, and my eyesight is deteriorating – the problems of getting older are so annoying – but there’s not much wrong with my memory. I thank God for that. I just sit here  for a while, alone with my thoughts, and I think about how life once was: the good moments in life that I’ve lived through. I never dwell on the bad – nothing good comes from that.

I like this wall painting behind me, it’s of Pirmin Zurbriggen, a very famous Swiss skier who has a special place in the hearts of all the people of the Valais Canton.  He’s one of the most successful Swiss skiers of all time.

I remember the day when he was crowned Olympiasieger (Olympic Champion). That’s something I remember as if it was yesterday. It was 1988 and the winter games were held in Calgary, Canada. And Pirmin won the Gold Medal in the Downhill. We were all watching it on TV and I think the whole village erupted into cheering when he won. There were great celebrations that night! He wasn’t a Zermatt boy. He came from Saastal – the next valley eastwards from here. But we all celebrated that achievement together. All Switzerland celebrated.

The next year, 1989, he married a Zermatt girl – Monica Julen – and he became one of us. And after a few years he and Moni, as we call her, made Zermatt their home.”

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I wasn’t sure how to title this post, or what to write initially, and then I came up with the idea of letting this elderly lady tell the story about the image behind her. I remember watching that Olympic Downhill race. Pirmin was hugely successful for a number of years and not just as a Downhill racer, he won at Slalom and Giant Slalom too. He was the overall World Cup Champion four times.

His wife, Monica Julen, is the younger sister of Heinz Julen who I mentioned a few days ago in Cafe Balcony. There is a fascinating article about the Julen family which is well worth a read if you have the time – click here to view. They are a hugely talented family all of whom have become successful in their own right. My very first climbs in the Zermatt area were in the company of Paul Julen, a Mountain Guide and a distant relative of the same family.

This mural has been in place for many years but this is the first time I have ever thought of photographing it. I spotted this lady sitting in front of it and could see the contrast between the elderly lady and the athletic skier. I dropped the Nikon down to hip height, looked the other way and took a couple of frames blind and unnoticed. Apart from a ’tilt’, the camera captured the scene. I processed it as you see it above. It was a cropped version of the original.

I looked at the image again yesterday and wondered if I had been right to crop out a much younger lady in pinkish trousers descending the steps at the right edge of the image. So, below, I have re-processed the image to include that figure.

Colour-wise she couldn’t be better dressed. But the question for you is this: does she add something to the image, or is she a distraction from the main story?

What do you think? Do, please, post a comment.

Finally, a warm welcome to a large number of recent followers of this blog. One of the pleasures of this photographic WordPress community is the way we interconnect. So if you have something to say or ‘like’ this post, then you know what to do.

Click on an image to see a higher quality enlargement.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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19 Responses to I remember when…

  1. Maggie Zwilling says:

    After reading your story, I found the image of the woman coming down the steps a distraction. After all, the story is about her memories and the image of the famous skier.

  2. Chillbrook says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post Andy. To hear the old ladies story. I think your original instinct was correct. This is the old lady’s story and the young woman, in my view, really does distract from that. Your photograph really does tell so much of the story without the words. I can see why you would be tempted to include her but on this occasion, I would definitely go with the crop.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian. I think you and others are right – my original crop was the right approach. Although I may have skewed the argument with the text. Leaving the image with just the title ‘I remember when…’ might allow the viewer to view the second image and make up their own stories.

  3. Sue says:

    I, too, think this should be only the old lady – it’s her story!

  4. I think that with the narrative, the young woman is a distraction. But without the narrative you have a different story: The journey of a young person toward old age. The colors and shapes (pinks, legs) integrate well. The choice just depends on what you want to do.

    • LensScaper says:

      That’s a very perceptive comment Linda. I think the narrative distorts the question because it creates a story that is about the elderly lady and the image. But if the image was presented with the addition of the younger person and the title remained the same with no accompanying story or text then perhaps it results in the reader reading the image differently?

  5. shoreacres says:

    Even without the story and the title, the young woman on the stairs feels like clutter to me. She seems to have wandered in quite by accident, and to detract from the strength of the rest of the image. If she’d been standing in front of the open column of wall, she and the planter would have bracketed the older woman and the poster perfectly — she’s just a little too far removed, I think.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks you Linda. Everyone agrees that the lady on the right is surplus to requirements. Personally, I think she still balances the image but her contribution to the story rules her out. One of the issues with the original crop is that the elderly lady is very central and I would have preferred her more offset.

  6. It could still be the old woman’s story with the lady descending the stage. Not to old age, perhaps. 🙂 The old woman is content, the young lady is fretful. She frames the centre by her awkward worried descent which is caught in time. The old woman and skier are not. Without the contrast, the old woman could be pitiable. What I would crop is the flowers.

  7. Louise says:

    Lovely to see the one you chose though Andy, and although a bit late with my comment I agree with others .. I like the story you have woven for the background . We all generally post one image of a scene but it’s nice to *see* alternatives . Decisions have to be made about much in a final presentation and there in lies many a dilemma 🙂

  8. roykarlsvik says:

    Just looking at the pictures they are telling two more or less completely different stories. I like them both, but in different ways. But having also read the text it makes sense to leave the younger woman out of it, hence your crop.
    Very nice to post both versions and to open up for discussions around the theme, as it’s always great to read other peoples thoughts around the matters as well.
    Great blog, by the way. Really looking forward to start going through this thing 🙂
    Regards from Norway.

    • LensScaper says:

      Hi Roy, welcome to my blog and many thanks for your comment. All the commenters agree – the younger women is a distraction. It’s been good to ask the photographic community a question and get conversations going. I’ve been reading your blog, and it seems like me, your interest in photography goes back a long way. I spent years producing black and white prints in the darkroom. Now increasingly I produce black and white images from my colour digital work. I have never lost my passion for B&W. What I personally find is that a B&W digital image is so much quicker to produce without all the old darkroom work, and I can manipulate the medium rapidly and easily, and if I don’t like the result then I can just trash it and start all over again.

      • roykarlsvik says:

        Hi, Andy. And thanks a lot for adding me and having a read through my brand new-ish blog. This one is going to be a bit more digital than my other blog, which is all film. More or less, anyway. My interest in photography goes back to from before I can remember much, it seems. Not that I claim to be a good photographer, but I hope to learn some every day. I like to have a little look at what other people do, and also read some words about it all.
        My personal preference is B&W due to the fact that it seems to fit me and what I usually do, the most. But I like to have a look at the world in colours as well, from time to time 🙂
        Digital is a lot quicker, but still I like the old way to do it. It’s the same, but different… I think. When I see a great photo I don’t care much if it’s snapped through this medium or the other. After all it’s the photo itself that matters 🙂
        I’m looking forward to get some time to go through your blog.

  9. voice705 says:

    cropped version is much better and eye-catching!

Comments are closed.