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A Different View

Pictures that paint a thousand words from childhood

Dave O'Connell

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The photograph that defines my childhood is a black and white portrait of a small boy in grey suit – short pants – a Communion rosette and reluctant smile, with one hand holding a prayer book and the other resting on a side table, as you do.

It wasn’t even taken on the day of my First Communion – we had to do the suit and shirt thing all over again and drive into town to go upstairs at Farrell’s Photography in Woodquay where the moment was re-enacted for the purpose of posterity.

The reluctant smile was down to a young boy’s discomfort in a suit – something that actually hasn’t become any easier with time – and perhaps the absence of a tooth or two as well.

And of course photographic studios still exist in all of their glory – these days the photographers can also set up temporary home with the addition of nothing more than a bright light and a bed sheet as the backdrop.

But today’s portraits are less rigid, more joyous affairs; it’s more natural now and less like you were about to be shot down the barrel of a gun instead of through a harmless camera lens.

It wasn’t just my childhood; go into anyone’s home and the pictures of their youth are posed in studios with various backdrops and props like the little table on which to rest your hand.

Go back a generation or two and the formal portrait would centre on the patriarch in a big chair with his wife and children positioned around him like bees around honey.

Children were dressed in sailor suits even if they’d never seen the sea; father’s thumbed their braces to give them the air of enormous wealth

Wedding pictures are still of the more formal variety – bride and groom in one shot by the river or under a tree; bride, groom, bridesmaids and best man; bride’s family; groom’s family and group shot once everyone can be persuaded to come out of the bar for a minute.

But even then, more couples want a photographer to capture the spontaneous moments of the day – the side glance from the blushing bride, the mother of the bride fixing her hat, the father of the bride before his sixth pint.

Concentrating on the more informal aspects of the big day can have its perils too of course – my own wedding video concentrated so such an extent on the females in the church that it had to be sent back for reediting so that I could be seen in at least one frame to prove I had actually been one half of the happy couple.

Now that everyone has their own camera, the big occasions are captured for real, as they happen, not rigidly restaged later in the artificial setting of a photographer’s studio.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Selfies mean autographs are now just a relic of the past

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

When you look back through old photo albums, you realise what an occasion that family portrait used to be – best clothes, hair combed, standing to attention like soldiers off to war.

These days, we probably take more photographs in one week that our parents took in their entire lifetime, and so the sense of occasion or formality are no longer.

Now the trick is to capture those unguarded moments, where no one is posing for the picture but rather is caught unawares.

When we used to go to weddings in larger numbers, you’d find it was no longer enough to have an official photographer and videographer on hand to capture the unfolding now – now each table had a disposable camera to capture those accidental moments as well.

At least the wedding album is still a thing – even if, as ever before, its primary duty is as a door-stopper with the express purpose of gathering dust.

And the wedding video remains a great way of clearing the house of interminable guests; just stick it on and watch them reach for their coats as they suddenly ring for taxis.

Less so the days of everyone getting dressed up in best clothes again a few days after the Communion or Confirmation and going to a photography studio to pose beside the potted plant in front of the drop screen of big castle doors.

The upsurge in photography on foot of easy access has also seen another evolution – the celebrity autograph being usurped by the selfie.

There’s still a huge market for autographs of course, but it’s just no longer what young fans wait around stage doors or stadiums for – now it’s a pic on your phone with your favourite star.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Grandparents are the glue that became unstuck during Covid

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

IT goes without saying that lockdown has been hard for everyone – with the possible exception of hermits – but few have felt it more than grandparents, confined to barracks and deprived of those hugs from the grandchildren.

Looking at them through windows may only have made it worse, because little kids don’t understand why nana and granddad won’t come out; they don’t realise they want to, more than anything in the whole world.

This pandemic has given us plenty of time to reflect; a chance to remember what is truly important and what we should cherish instead of taking for granted.

And arguably, grandparents should be on top of that list.

You’ll have heard it said that being a grandparent is like you’ve been given a second chance; an opportunity to spend time in retirement with the next generation that work deprived you of when it came to your own.

There’s also a notion espoused by some of those grandparents that you love them more than your own kids, because this time, when you’re finished playing with them, you can give them back.

I never knew any of my four grandparents, because they were all dead before I was born. My own sons never knew my parents because they too had long departed before the next generation arrived.

But thankfully they did grow up with two grandparents as an integral part of their lives – and not just minding them, which they did with a commitment for which we will be ever grateful.

The measure of success in this department is that your children see your parents as just a part of the family; there’s an easy familiarity every time they meet, just like picking up the pieces without a second thought.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Home is still full of memories even when it’s an empty nest

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

We’ve all heard the phrase – and perhaps dread the concept; the empty nest, after the fledglings take flight and you’re left rattling around in a quiet house with just memories of those days of pandemonium and noise.

The social policy-makers would tell you that this is the time to downsize; save yourself the steps of the stairs and the cleaning, and cut down on the heating bills to enjoy your autumn days in accommodation more appropriate to your reduced needs.

And from a purely economic perspective, there’s merit in that. You have a house that’s now too big for you, and others can’t find a home of any size, let alone one sufficient for a full family – but that’s only one side of the argument.

The other is that your house is your home, and not because of its size – it’s because of its location, and your familiarity with its every nook and cranny. It’s also where those fly-away chicks still see as home, even if they’re now no more than occasional visitors.

As you grow older, familiarity is more important than ever; without the beautiful distraction of children, you grow even more dependent on neighbours and your community and the facilities you know on your old doorstep.

You know how long it takes to get to the shops or to the pub; you know you to give a spare key to in case you’re out when a delivery is due – or later on, if there’s a fear you might have a fall.

Your lifetime’s treasures – except for the children – are in your home; the sort of stuff others might see as clutter, but to you they are memories of holidays or graduations or births or marriages…those glory days that marked the chapters of your family life.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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