Sunday, November 23, 2008

Photographs, Memories, and Virtual Footprints

Brandon Crisp Brandon Crisp

As the search for Brandon was continuing, and then after he was found, I would at times ponder Brandon's Facebook account - there he was, listed as a Friend to so many of his classmates that had joined the Facebook groups set up around his story. 259 Facebook friends, about average for a high school student these days. A small slice of his life, frozen in time on October 13th.

As it turns out, his Facebook account was deactivated last week, probably by his family. So now what are left are wispy ghosts of his online presence - a tag in some photos here and there. Though some teens fill their profiles with pictures of themselves, and appear all over in photos by others, I get the feeling that this was not the case with Brandon. A couple of pictures were posted to the public group Where is Brandon Crisp, and a couple were released by his family to help in the search - these pictures can be seen at the Flickr link at the side of this page.

The iconic picture that has been seen by everyone is the photo of Brandon by the lake, wearing a stripped blue shirt. This is a great picture. I love it as a photograph - the composition, the lighting, the blue sky - but much more than that it does a great job of presenting Brandon in a way that people can truly relate to. Teenage boys don't like to be described with words such as "sweet", "cute", or "innocent", but those words came up often in the service, and they are captured in this picture. People being the visual animals that they are, this picture in no doubt contributed to the huge outpouring of concern and sympathy for Brandon.

But as much as I love that pic, my favourite pictures of those shared publicly are the ones above - everyday snapshots. In each of those I find small details that make me smile. I know that these pictures are like reading a single paragraph from a classic novel - they can't even begin to tell the full story of Brandon's life; but instead they give a little glimpse, a tiny sliver of insight, into this life that was taken all too soon.

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