What is your Default Image?

I’m reading Leanne Shapton’s Swimming StudiesIt’s great. There’s a lot I’d like to write about how inspiring and enjoyable it is to read, but I’ll save that for once I’ve finished the entire book. For now, I’ll just post about Shapton’s brief discussion of default images:

My grandfather was a bomber pilot in the Second World War. Though he lived into his late eighties, he’s frozen in my mind as the young man in a photo, wearing a flight suit and goggles, grinning next to a B-25 Mitchell. The image that comes to mind when I think of my mother is a snapshot of her, taken around 1983, sitting on her bed dressed in work clothes: silk shirt, trousers, long necklace, smiling. If I think of my dad, he’s in our dining room, clapping and singing along to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. The default image I have of myself is a photo: me, ten, standing next to the ladder at Gawthra Park pool in a blue bathing suit, knees clenched, trying to catch my breath.

Shapton, 5-6.

What’s your default image? Here’s one of mine:


A photo of me, taken by my dad (I think?) when I’m 8 at Clyde Campbell Elementary School near Hickory, North Carolina. I’d just taken a photo with my co-ed soccer team.  I love my pose, with my belly straining, just a little, against my pale blue team shirt. I look so strong and confident and spirited.