Freudian Slips: Every Picture Tells A Story

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

June 13, 2006

Every Picture Tells A Story

- Joe Tornatore, through the years.

Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn’t for me. Still, like my father used to say, “Traffic’s traffic, you go where life takes you,” and growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next you’re gone, but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a time, a place, a particular Fourth of July, the things that happened in that decade of war and change. I remember a house like a lot of houses, a yard like a lot of yards, on a street like a lot of streets. I remember how hard it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how hard it was to leave. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back in wonder. -Series Finale of The Wonder Years
I am exultant. I just finished an ambitious computer project that took eight months and six days in the making. I devoted about 30 minutes a night to produce a DVD of all the still pictures in the Tornatore family. I diligently worked over 100 man hours on a project that started with pouring through my own photo albums. After sifting through all of the pictures, I scanned a representative sampling of pictures taken of the same event. I discarded all the blurry pictures and those dangling thumb unsalvageable outtakes. I tossed aside the pictures of people once so important to me to warrant a keepsake picture that I cannot even remember their first names today. After narrowing the field, I manually scanned over three thousand pictures into the photo shop matrix. Scanning had its tediousness but mouse dragging each picture in chronological order to establish an accurate timeline was not only time consuming but downright mind boggling. There are some things to be damned about the Tornatore family. Outside of one ex-communicated former wife on a brother’s side, no Tornatore ever wrote pertinent information on the back of pictures. I resorted to using a magnifying glass to examine identical elements in pictures to sequence them.
Here is a helpful tip for anyone out there wanting to try this at home. Periodically back-up your work on a permanent medium or risk being sorry. While working blurry-eyed late one night past David Letterman and a reasonable hour, I accidentally deleted my original folder containing 1200 pictures. Poof. Gone. Zippo. Nada. No recovery. As a testament to my obsessive compulsive nature, I buried my head in my arms, whimpered myself to sleep, then woke up and literally started over at picture numero uno. About two months later when I inched past the 1200 count watermark again, I finally stopped crucifying myself for the costly mistake and looked to the future.
Upon learning of my strange time consuming hobby, my helpful mother invited me to borrow her photo collection to add to the obsessiveness. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Out of a mothballed closet came a see-through zippered garment bag full of a few hundred loose pictures. The precious memories of my childhood had been scrambled inside a giant plastic bag. Once I got the pile home, I weighed the garment bag on a scale. Through a soft deliberate mantra, I then convinced myself that I only had 21 more pounds of pictures to scan. After returning unscathed from mother’s picture gulag, I then collected the dusty photo albums from my brothers to see what assorted memories they were hanging onto. I scanned their family photos then individually placed them in the correct timeline.
Each and every scanned picture had to pass diagnostics. My editing included captioning, scissor cropping, red eye reduction, highlighting, horizon tilts, focusing, sharpening, colorizing, etc. Then I started to get real cute. I added speech bubbles to choice pictures begging for humor. I tinkered with special effect shots by modifying the format of the pictures. I even made multi-exposure collages of each member of our family from birth to present day. I crunched the numbers and rationalized that special effects and collaging would add only about a week to the project. Time well spent they must say in OCD rehab clinics.
Like a crazed scrapbooker striving for hobbyist perfection, I started to rummage through closets to collect the children’s artwork to scan. I then scanned vital statistics like birth certificates, death cards, greeting cards, brochures, and report cards. Eventually, I scanned everything non-edible that would lay face down on my scanner’s tired 11x14 bed. As a tribute to my affliction, I traveled across South Jersey visiting the various houses where my family lived. I took pictures of my former homes and let’s not forget snapshots of the landmark street signs for prosperity. I even rounded up Time magazine covers for each year dating back to the 1930’s. I craftily used the magazine covers as year-end bookmarks.
Time hurls itself forward beckoning a mind to behold the memories. Reflecting on the thousands of catalogued pictures though, I wonder about the dichotomy in the years gone by. Life seems to be both a fleeting grand illusion and a long journey with a point of no return. When I realize how many cups of coffee I drank from the coffee cup bearing my daughter’s picture and the years it took for the caustic dishwasher to erode her image from it, life feels long. But children grow up much too fast even though picking out baby names seems like yesterday. When I stop to think about the countless hours I dedicated just to this project, time slows down to a baby’s crawl even though I did not spend enough time cherishing the same fond memories in real time when they happened. Perhaps it is because life happens so speedily that left readily onto itself it is only the pictures that tell the story.



Blogger Maja said...

Well I say well done to you! I think that's a project to be proud of, especially since you've completed it.

Sometimes I spend as much time recounting things in my diaries and pasting in photos as I spend actually experiencing those memories, but I don't see it as a waste of time. I don't think your project was a waste of time either.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

it was a photo opportunity that I couldn't pass on.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Zelda Parker said...

You should not have any problem locating just the right pic for the BB at work. The question is which one do you want us all to enjoy?

10:45 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

I need permission from my prom date's guardian first.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

What I'd like to know is this. When you first began this precious project, did you actually plan to make it so complex and inclusive or did you just start out and let things 'develop' as you went along?

With this post, you've managed to create fine images of yourself sitting at the computer hour after hour and day after day, with the patience of a saint and the sweet memories of one who has truly cherished his life.

Way to go, Joe!

1:11 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

OCD is a process.

6:31 PM  
Blogger meekon5 said...

As one anal retentive to another this is truly a project I wish to emulate for my own photo’s. Just after I finish converting all my CD’s and vinyl to MP3’s and backing them up on the pc. Actually an interesting project would be to link the two. All your photo’s linked to your music. (oh god I have no life). :-)

7:19 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

At least we have lives to convert, huh?

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked your project idea. I am the photo keeper in my family and can appreciate all your hard work. Emily

4:24 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Takes more time then painting. lol

8:48 PM  

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