© 2010 Aaron Atkinson

Good Pick

As a student at Graceland, I shot a lot of photographs. With hundreds of people around, it was the perfect place to learn how to be a portrait photographer. It was also the early 90s, and digital SLR cameras had just hit the market. I didn’t have one yet, so throughout college I shot and developed my own film. Nothing gives you an appreciation for working on photographs in front of a computer like spending endless hours developing prints by the red glow of a darkroom light with the acidic, vinegarish smell of chemicals thick in the still air.

There was a deep anticipation in shooting film. A delayed gratification and sense of suspended wonderment that kept you guessing as to whether or not you really captured the moment, the look or the feeling. Printing the photographs in the darkroom also had a bit of alchemistic magic to it as shades of grey slowly appeared on a stark white canvas.

Of all the thousands of moments I captured on my Ilford negatives and prints, this one brought the biggest smile to my face. As I was shooting this tot, I saw the fleeting moment of magic, and while I thought I’d captured it, I wasn’t certain until I saw it slowly materialize in front of me.

Incidentally, this photograph made its way onto the family’s Christmas card that December. In the perfect blend of philanthropy, holiday spirit and humor the caption simply read:

This Christmas, we pick peace.


  1. Shandra Newcom
    Posted December 19, 2010 at 11:12 pm | #

    Love it! Thanks so much. We still adore the picture and the photographer. 9 years later we also are still seeking to pick peace. Cheers. S.

  2. Aaron Atkinson
    Posted December 21, 2010 at 3:17 am | #

    One hundred thousand shots later, this is still one of my favorites.

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