Day 307: On Photographs

We did some organizing and literal housekeeping today, and as I was sorting through a giant stack of photographs that have been packed away for years, I had a few thoughts. 

First, I am not always a big fan of photos. I think it’s awkward and weird to interrupt a special moment to pose for a photograph and extremely egotistical to stop everything to request to have a special photograph taken. I also don’t like how easy it is to manipulate reality in a photo so that it doesn’t reflect any of what is actually happening in that moment. I am probably particularly sensitive to this because I have known several people who insist on having photographs to aid their false narratives. 

Second, I am not big on printing photos. I do take them, but they are rarely staged. The lack of printing is partially a priority thing (I almost said laziness, but even I can’t accuse myself of that after this past week – and eight years). Most of the printed photos I have are photos my mother or grandmother took and printed for me, other than the photo books I’ve made myself. 

As I was sorting photos today, deciding what to keep and what to toss, I thought about what made me save some and discard others. I got rid of almost every blurry shot, but I also got rid of any photo that did not feel it seem authentic (and fine, I tossed one or two extremely unflattering shots – I’m human). A fake smile, someone pretending to be nice, whatever. I’m not sure that was the right decision or not, because even if it was not authentic, the moment still happened. Still, when my kids are older and look back, I don’t want them to use photographs containing false sentiments to try to figure out or remember what their lives were like. 

It struck me that from now on, thanks to the Internet and social media in particular, that won’t be an option. Photos, authentic or not, will be out there, available, eternal. Kind of a strange thought. 

My kids are still at this wonderfully innocent age and I love photographing them doing whatever they are doing, feeling whatever they are feeling. I want to remember these moments forever, because I don’t believe there will ever be anything better. I also worry that as they get older, the ability to capture every moment, every mistake, might not be so great. 

I’m not sure what to do or feel about any of that, but it seemed worth sharing. 

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