88°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Photos only capture moments, not essence of experience

A few weeks ago my framily (friends who are practically family), Monica Maltese and Gabriel Carvajal, came through Boulder City on a cross-country adventure. They started out on the East Coast and were San Diego bound.

As the pair drove across our great nation, they took deliberate detours to check out important landmarks. As they made their way west, I followed their road trip’s Facebook album. It contained a growing collection of photos as they stopped at the Alamo, White Sands National Monument, Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon.

We met in historic downtown Boulder City, and Monica had already taken a selfie with our resident Zoltar, thanks to Characters Unlimited. We then grabbed a selfie in the World Famous Coffee Cup and followed breakfast with a stop at Hemenway Valley Park to grab photos of the bighorn sheep.

As I got to play tourist for the day, I realized all the picturesque opportunities, aside from Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, that Boulder City has to offer.

Before Facebook albums to document road trips were a thing, one famous photographer named Margaret Bourke-White came through Boulder City in the ’30s to take photos of Hoover Dam. Bourke-White wasn’t the official dam photographer, but it was her work that inspired the dam’s official photographer, Ben Glaha. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s website currently showcases an image she took of the then-named Boulder Dam.

The Library of Congress dubbed Bourke-White as a “woman of firsts,” stating she was the first photographer for Fortune magazine, the first Western professional photographer permitted into the Soviet Union, Life magazine’s first female photographer (who also landed the magazine’s first ever cover) and she the first female war correspondent credentialed to work in combat zones during World War II.

What Bourke-White captured from her camera’s lens not only documented her travels throughout the world but also identified important moments in history. Her work captured the rise and fall of Nazism, including photographing Jewish concentration camp prisoners, as well as the corpses of Nazi officials who died by suicide after the liberation of the Weimar concentration camp. In her travels around the world, Bourke-White also worked alongside the U.S. government where she came under direct fire.

Today, we have selfies and Photoshop to document our journeys. Back then, Bourke-White was photographed sitting on top of the 1,046-foot-tall Chrysler Building in New York, draping herself over a gargoyle, to get a bird’s-eye view of Manhattan. She was inventive, daring and saw things not only for either their beauty or ugliness, but for the historical impact her subject had on the world.

In 1963 Bourke-White couldn’t take any more photos. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In spite of a variety of attempts to slow the disease, including two brain surgeries, her journey to be a silent observer by letting a picture speak 1,000 words had changed its course.

Bourke-White decided to tell her story by writing an autobiography appropriately titled “Portrait of Myself.” Her autobiography, along with the many other books dedicated to Bourke-White’s work, is my Throwback Thursday recommendation today. And, if you can find it, I also recommend “Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White.” It’s a 1989 TV movie with actress Farrah Fawcett playing the famed photographer.

While fully aware of her autobiography’s best-seller status, Bourke-White’s diagnosis led the single and childless photographer to become increasingly isolated. With her worldly experiences behind her, she battled Parkinson’s disease surrounded only by the fond memories she had captured with her camera — memories that sat beautifully frozen and framed on the walls of her home before her passing in 1971.

Bourke-White saw what was most interesting and impactful in the everyday occurrence, something most of us only notice when an event such as a road trip or family coming to town occurs. And while it is easy for us to take a quick selfie, I believe it is the experiences we have with one another that truly define us beyond the lens of any camera.

Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @hollywoodwriter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Air traffic control towers save lives

I commend the City Council for its interest in the construction of an air traffic control tower at the Boulder City airport, a move that will enhance safety and could even save lives.

Bishop’s ordination filled the soul

Hundreds of devout souls came out Friday to celebrate one of Boulder City’s own, the Rev. Gregory Gordon, who was ordained as the first auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas.

Consult pilots about need for air control tower

Did you know that there are over 15,000 public and private airports in the United States, and only 300 or so are served by the airlines? There are only 648 airport control towers in the entire nation. Therefore, there are approximately 14,000 airports without control towers. So, the question is: Does our tiny airport need a control tower?

Extend warm welcome to new council members

Tuesday, the city welcomed its two new council members, Matt Fox and Sherri Jorgensen. I wish them all the best as they begin this new chapter in their lives.

Some information bears repeating — often

So often we say or write something and the intended audience takes it in a completely different way from what you planned or ignores it totally. What do you do?

Does city desire family housing?

Many issues seem to be a perpetual part of Boulder City politics. One of those that always seems to arise during an election is how does Boulder City continue to keep our schools filled with children? Over half the population of Boulder City is older than 50.

Commentary: Water conservation remains key to sustainable future

The last time Lake Mead was at 35 percent capacity, it was being filled in the 1930s. While ongoing drought and climate change have created an uncomfortable reality and stressed water supplies, the Southern Nevada Water Authority has been preparing for this for almost 20 years. Now, with a federal shortage declaration just weeks away, our community’s commitment to conserving our limited water resources takes on a new urgency as we strive to protect the vibrancy of the place that more than two million of us call home.

Public utility commission needed for social media

Holding and reading a newspaper is old school these days. However, Facebook, and other social media platforms, have given us the power of instant feedback. I said in a previous column that all feedback is good, even when it is negative.

Enjoy July’s many gifts

Today is July 1 and it marks the beginning of one of my favorite months of the year.

New leaders will bring fresh perspective to city

The recent municipal election resulted in two new council members being elected. I congratulate Sherri Jorgensen and Matt Fox on their elections and welcome their input on City Council.