Every Picture Tells A Story



Every picture tells a story. Even if the picture is 640 by 480 pixels big. A slight change made to the camera angle and the next picture can tell an entirely different story.

Today, I’m going to show two pictures and tell two stories. This won’t take long but it validates why I’m a digital photo hoarder.

A Question For You To Consider

The first picture was not a selfie. The second picture was. Which is more valuable?

Picture #1 – Ken at Work on March 21, 2000



Figure 1: Ken Black on 3/21/2000 working at Jacobs Engineering in Oak Ridge, TN. This is not a selfie.


Things you see in Figure 1: 

  • A younger Ken working at his office at Jacobs Engineering. A happy guy.
  • Ken doing data work in at least three windows.
  • Ken doing 3d data visualization, hence 3danim8 (three-d animations).
  • Time is important to him, hence the clock and calendar.
  • Early days of internet, there still is a radio on top of the computer.
  • Early technology, big fat monitor, funky disk drives.
  • Sticky notes! (I still use them).
  • Short sleeve shirt, spring probably has already sprung.

Things you don’t necessarily see in Figure 1:

  1. Early digital photography (Figure 2). A 111 Kb picture file, 640 by 480 pixels, Kodak DC240 camera. Why don’t camera manufactures still give us the option of imprinted dates/times on the photo like this? Is this a great idea lost?
  2. Do you notice the camera angle? It was taken fairly low to the ground. Do you have any idea why? This wasn’t a selfie, based on my arm position. I wonder who took the picture?

Figure 2 – The details of that photo, showing how far digital photography has progressed.


Now if the camera angle is slightly changed, what do you now see? There is only a 1 minute difference in the photo time.

Picture #2 – Ken and Colton at Work on March 21, 2000, 1 minute before the previous picture was taken.


Figure 3 – Ken and Colton at work on 3/21/2000 at Jacobs Engineering in Oak Ridge, TN. This is a selfie taken by Ken, now including Colton and other parts of the scene in my office.


Additional things you see in Figure 3:

  1. Now you see 4-year old Colton is with me. He took picture #1. Not bad for a 4-year old!
  2. Now you see all the things Ken is interested in, based on what is in his magazine rack. Smithsonian, National Geographic, Woodworking, Cycling, Java programming, This Old House, Adventure.  This vertical reading stack in some way still defines my interests.
  3. An aerial photo of Western Cape Cod. This is where I spent a decade doing the quantitative studies (analytical and numerical modeling, graphics development, GIS, etc) to remediate contaminated groundwater.

Things you don’t know from Figure 3:

This is really the reason I wrote this article. I want to express how important it is to recognize how fast time passes and for us all to realize that each day is meaningful.

What the picture doesn’t tell you is how connected I have been to Colton, ever since he was a baby. On this particular day, I was supposed to drop him off at his pre-school. That was an assignment that Toni gave for that morning, since she had some work to do. Luckily, I failed to complete my assignment, and I now have that photo to remember that day.

What happened instead is that Colton would not let me leave him at his pre-school. He clung to me until I relented and loaded him back into the car so that he could spend the day with me at work. I’ve got pictures from another couple of days like this one, in which he manipulated me into taking him to work with me! I always enjoyed those days.

Eventually, Toni told me that I had to learn how to be a tougher guy and leave him at the school! On that day in March, 2000,  I’m glad that I didn’t because I know, based on this picture, that we had a good day together.

Colton is now 6’3″, handsome as ever (Figure 4), and is in his third year of his undergraduate studies. I’m trying to get him interested in learning Tableau and Alteryx. He is great with stats and math in general, and I know he will adapt to this work very well. He is also being awesome as a big-brother to Jett. They look so much alike that sometimes I call Jett by the name of Colton.

Thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s