Pictures–What are they for?

Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man. –Edward Steichen, photographer


Have you ever caught yourself—be it by some out-there, tangential whim or result of some now forgotten reason—looking at old pictures, it’s been a few hours, but you just can’t seem to stop in spite of a million other things you probably should be doing?  I’ve just experienced how, for better or for worse, pictures extract from us, elicit from us beyond the power of our control, some form of emotion or feelings which change and range without warning with each photoset or, in my case, with each tap of the “down” button on my laptop’s keyboard.

Certainly, I think that, these days, our lives are oversaturated with commercial images and often misleading representations trying to sway us one way or another, prompting us to ignore and look coolly over most or at least forget them within—let’s be real—a few minutes or seconds.  While there may be truth in that, just like how there are those certain songs which paralyze all train of thought and take you back to a certain time, a far off certain place, particularly our own pictures (and occasionally those taken by others) can briefly freeze this moment, allow us to unconsciously step out of hectic current ourselves for an almost out of body experience, and make us feel a billion things all at once.  (Albeit longing, nostalgia, happiness, amusement, regretful, hopeful, grateful, what have you.)  The power of pictures lies not in capturing beautiful images of picturesque or professional-grade quality, but in the space between the moment it was taken and right now.

Therefore, I believe that pictures can and will mean a lot of different things to different people—different strokes for different folks—but for me, more than the affects they draw from me, they help me get a better sense of where I’ve come and how I’ve changed.


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