Lily Bee – #ThousandWords #001

Lily Bee @ Oberlin College Lanes

As a photographer, I very often hear the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I thought about that a lot, recently… I fancy myself a pretty darn good writer, and I wondered if I really could come up with a thousand words based on just one photograph. I decided to take that as a challenge, and rise to meet it. In this series of #ThousandWords, I will give you one photograph, and write a thousand words—or more—about all aspects of the photo: the subject, the setting, the situation, etc…

This first post in the series is dedicated to my very dear friend, Lily, whom I hold very near and dear to the very fibre of my soul.

A thousand words for a priceless friend…

This is definitely not my best photo of Lily, but it is the one I’ve gotten the most feedback on. No one seems to criticize this photo for being underexposed, or for not really being framed very well (the lone, ugly fluorescent light in the bokeh). Most of the feedback I receive has to do with Lily’s facial expression. This shot is from the first song she performed in the Cat and the Cream café at Oberlin College Lanes. It’s not exactly the happiest expression you could show, but there is definitely a noticeable joy being displayed. She doesn’t look particularly stressed, or nervous, but she’s not entirely calm. I’m afraid that may be a residual heart palpitation, or something, from my scaring-the-crap-out-of-Lily surprise visit at the Fêve a few hours prior in what can only be described as “downtown” Oberlin, Ohio. That probably has very little to do with her expression at this particular moment, but I like to think that it does.

The venue was not particularly well-lit, though there were warm spotlights on Lily, which is why the color in her face is so vivid, and everything else sort of just fades to black. The crowd was small, but very attentive, even though several of them were supposed to be working on homework and other assignments, pretty much everyone’s attention was fixed on Lily. The intimate atmosphere, the huge stage with just a stool and a microphone on it, and the direct lighting really made her the focal point of the evening, as she should have been.

There were of course a few awkward moments during the set… A dropped kazoo, a silly joke, a slipped chord, but all of these things are what comes along with the Lily Bee package, and I really would not have it any other way. The casual, familiar air that follows her wherever she goes helps make anyone feel right at home, no matter the situation or setting.

Anyway, let me now take a few minutes to talk to you about this particular friend of mine. Lily falls far beyond the bounds of what someone would typically call their “best friend.” I have several people who I generally consider to be on the same, or perhaps a bit closer, level of “best friend” as Lily is to me, but Lily has something none of the others have.. and that is that she reached this level in such a short amount of time. After all, we only know each other for about a year and a half at the time of this posting. So how can you really know someone well enough in such a short amount of time? Especially when they live 3,000 miles away from you? By sharing. A lot, and often. Granted, there are always some things you’ll tell one “best friend” but not another, but Lily has been intimately involved with the recovery process through various traumatic, stressful, or otherwise damaging events that have taken place during this time, and I with hers. She has been a source of wisdom that I have come to trust, and even to expect, to be at least a bit enlightening (no pressure, Lily!) if not wholly applicable and relevant to my situation. She even manages to have a song of her own for just about anything I am dealing with, whether she knows it or not.

Neither of us are really sure just how this all came about. We’ve actually discussed it, recently, and we know roughly the initial point of contact, but how things have progressed since then have just been a blur. We’ve both influenced each other to take major steps, and make major changes in our lives, and I think that really speaks for our friendship more than anything else. The fact that neither of us would be where we are, right now, without the interactions we’ve had with each other in our moments of trial, doubt, sadness, or even in the times when we’ve been so happy or excited about something that we just HAD to tell someone, lest we should explode… speaks volumes about the influence we hold over each others lives.

You’re probably thinking that I’ve collaborated with Lily on this post, but she really has no idea that I’m writing this about her, and it will probably make her cry to read it (especially this sentence… but at least this parenthetical will get a smile and a giggle out of her… see?). I know this, because I have to hold back tears just writing it, and it’s not even about me, it’s about her.

We exchanged a bit, yesterday… I messaged her out of the blue (as I tend to do pretty much every other day, it seems), about meeting up with a friend of ours while she’s on vacation. This, of course, went off into a thousand tangents about friends, our vastly different families, musicians we were planning on seeing perform, people we have introduced each other to, how we’ve impacted each other’s lives so much… These are all pretty common topics of conversation for us, which really drives home how much we both really appreciate whatever we’ve done to deserve being such good friends. I told her, “I treasure everything we’ve shared, to date. Words, tears, music, laughs, and screams included,” and I meant every letter and punctuation mark. That conversation almost didn’t happen, but I’m glad that it did, because it has caused me to finally put into action this #ThousandWords series, with Lily being in the spotlight for the premiere post.

So, in writing this, I realized that these aren’t exactly the thousand words that this photo would be worth to everyone… I think that “thousand words” adage is more like an average, or median, value… I don’t think everyone would get a thousand words from every picture.. Some may only get four (“Wow! She is beautiful!”) some may get 1,278 (this post!) but I wanted to share with you all what this photo says to me. I figured since I’m the one who made it, it would probably say more to me than most people, however I do not doubt that there are people who would get even more from it. If this photograph had a tag cloud, for me, the biggest words would be “friend,” “lovely,” “beautiful,” “incredible,” “happy,” and “wonderful,” with synonyms and other related words close behind them.

Some people would look at a picture of Lily, acknowledge it’s a nice photo (or maybe even criticize it for being a terrible photo, either way…) and then move on to the next… But every time I look a photo of Lily, the words contained here, on this page, echo through my mind and soul. It’s not something you can easily share with someone just by showing a photograph, or even by writing a rambling monologue such as this. This series is my attempt at expressing some of the meaning contained within a select few of my photos, as I perceive them, and I am eternally grateful to Lily for inspiring me to do this. I look forward to your feedback. If you’ve read this whole post, I congratulate you on having a longer-than-average attention span. Please feel free to share this post and also sound off in the comments below. I’d love to know how many words, and which words, this photo is worth to you. Travel safely, and God bless you. I love you all. (:

If a picture is worth a thousand words…

How many is a video worth?


This video speaks entire anthologies to me.

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About the Author

Christ-Follower, New Yorker, Performance Photographer, Social Engineer, Wannabe Musician, Amazing Husband, Internet Marketing Specialist: #SEO #SEM #LBM

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