Photography is a medium that can add immeasurable depth to the character and content of an online essay or show page or blog commentary. But, so often, choosing complementary images is treated as an afterthought, a sort of window display that fails to give you a hint of what’s inside or add to the story that’s being told in text or audio. I take this aspect seriously, especially when it comes to guest contributions to this blog.

In a simple call-out on Facebook and Twitter, we asked our readers to write about Advent or Hanukkah. We received dozens of clever, moving essays (even some on winter solstice!) and poetry — so many so that I worked through my first week of vacation editing and posting them. There were too many not to publish, and putting them off until I returned would mean that the built-in deadlines of the holidays would void them completely. Oh, what a joy though!

And what a challenge to find photos worthy of their partners. I hope I did our guest contributors right. Along the way, I found many others that weren’t quite right for pairing with our submissions. I’m sharing three photos with you that I don’t want to let go unnoticed.

I couldn’t find a spot for the photo above, but Christy Quirk’s street shot from her travels in Azerbaijan is absolutely wonderful. The scene is a bit depressing, and the Santa is a skinnier version of Dan Akroyd in Trading Places. (I’m just waiting for him to pull out a piece of salmon…) The photographer’s caption says it all:

“Christmas in a Muslim, post-Soviet country is a bit schizophrenic. Christmas isn’t celebrated as it is the West, but many of the icons are visible. Azeris like a secular New Year’s, but they also sometimes celebrate the Russian Christmas on January 6th. Nevertheless, this Santa looks a little worse for the wear.”

Roadside Santa in Goa, India
photo: Jon Ardern/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

And a Lancastrian photographer took this intriguing shot of a roadside vendor selling Santa masks and hats that read “Merry Christmas” — in Goa, India.

As interesting as these two Santa photos may be, it is the following family photo that I regret not using most:

Christmas Card Outtake
photo: Micah Taylor/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

Any family who has sat for a photo knows that the outtakes are often most memorable, and amusing. This one is scintillating and rich with texture, something the viewer can layer with meaning depending on the context. The photographer adds some flavor with his own caption: “For many obvious reasons, this did not make the cut for the family Christmas card, but it made the cut into my heart.”

Mine too, Micah. Mine too.

Share Your Reflection



Captions that describe the photo does add value to the photo. Many/some photographers have great eyes but sadly fall short when writing the captions to add value to their product. That is not the case here!

TWH stardate 1228.2010

All three of those photos were fantastic -- I think I agree that the last one is the most amazing and wildly beautiful. Thank you for posting these "asides."