The Purple Sunrise

It was December 2010.  I was shooting my final rolls of Kodachrome film, and in the brutal, bitter, icy winter – a winter that was so cold, my frozen breath spelled out my curse words in cursive – I tried to capture some images.  This was taken with decade-past-its-prime Kodachrome 25 film, a film that at that time was so slow it could have been clocked with a sundial.  If I could have found a sun anywhere.  All I could find was this.

The Purple Sunrise. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I shot this image in Cohoes, just a mile or two up from the Cohoes Falls.  The exposure in this picture is way off, the colors were unbalanced, the picture was on overly expired film.  it wasn’t a great photo.  I admit it.

But it served an alternative purpose.

We now move forward to February 2011.  I was in the middle of a very painful breakup and divorce, my health was out of whack, my car was in the repair shop, and some people that I thought were my friends eventually conspired to do some very hurtful “knife-stabby-in-the-backky” things to me.  I was in a dark place in my life.

I felt like I didn’t want to be anywhere or be near anyone.

And back in February 2011, Facebook didn’t have its “timeline” feature – and I wasn’t feeling like I wanted to talk to anyone on Facebook.

And the picture looked as depressing as I felt.  So I simply made the purple sunrise picture my profile picture.  It’s not like I would have entered it in any photo competitions; this was just a statement of how I felt at that time.

There’s no rule regarding Facebook that you have to have YOUR face as your profile picture.  Heck, you want to put Alice Cooper as your profile picture?  Go right ahead, it’s not like Mark Zuckerberg’s going to care.  There are others that use the timeline feature to put up a picture – any picture – and suddenly everyone’s wondering if all is well with that person, if they need help or they need comfort or they need space.

But it does bring up a very interesting question.  Do people put pictures up on their social media accounts that aren’t photos of themselves for a specific reason?  Do they put them up to provide any sort of hidden message – as in, “I’m depressed and you’re the reason why,” or “I really need to look at something tranquil when I visit my FB page, and I hope you feel tranquil when you visit my page as well”?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve put other non-face pictures up on FB as my profile pic – mostly photos I’ve taken that have been successful images and photographic techniques.  That being said, photos like the Purple Sunrise are still handy if I ever need to show that my mood is sour, my outlook is bleak, and all I want to do is lock the door, sit in my recliner, and watch a double feature of The Iron Giant and City Lights, broken up only by a How It’s Made marathon.

I get through moments like this.  We all do.  The fact is, we have to get through them.

The alternative, as you can imagine, isn’t very pleasant.