This blog is now rarely updated, but remains as an archive of bits and pieces I've collected from around the internet. To see what's caught my eye more recently, find me on twitter.

Monday 12 July 2010

s; Pictures

Second link in a day, but I missed a few days so this is just making up for it.

I think this post is great. I would rephrase it and steal his idea, but I think that Jack Shedd gets it so right that I'll just paste his post here (sorry if its bad etiquette to copy & paste, but I think this is good):
I guess other people have photo albums.
Lined up on shelves, there are sections of everyone’s life clearly documented, maybe labeled. There are reservoirs of memories just waiting to be have their damns burst. Turn open the spigot and drown in the past.
My generation is living online. Our lives being documented in ever more disparate venues; our devices capturing every inane moment, sharing it, pushing it out and notifying everyone of what just happened, who was there, where it was. When romantic comedies are written about the next decade, endearing scenes of a hero’s family sharing his misadventures with the romantic interest will soon take place huddled around the mother’s Facebook account.
I’ve never had the stomach for it.
I don’t think we capture the right moments. The camera flashes and we pose. Wepose. We create moments as artificial as the memory we want of them. We stare into lenses and lie, if only a little, so that the record shows we were there, enjoying or not enjoying ourselves, in precisely the way we’d prefer it.
But the perfect moments always allude us. The moments when we get the joke; when we decide; when we falter; the moments right before we succeed, right before we fail, before we’re sure. You can’t capture what you don’t expect, and so many of the things we should cherish are precisely the things we wouldn’t want a camera to see.
There is value to photography. Historical, candid, and artistic, they are evidence of what we’ve done, who we’ve known, where we’ve been. They are fragments we can stitch back together to form a narrative of our lives, however shallow and partial.
But I want no part in them. I don’t want to stare at some photo of me at 21 when I’m 50 and contemplate everything I was, or could have been. I don’t want to have to drown in partial truths, grasping at a falling memory to paint in details. I’d rather either remember, or not. Rather know, or forget. I’d rather be able to molt my life as it goes, letting the useless bits drop away as the important becomes more dear.
When I reach backwards into my life, I want to know what I find to have been defining. To have been something I couldn’t shake, couldn’t let go of. I want to forget the pointless birthday parties, and the group shots at the bars where so-and-so is making that face she makes, and I’m half-drunk, and look that’s what’s his face that guy who dated whoever that is. I want to reach and find the things I couldn’t photograph: the moments I knew, the moments we forgot; the street sign all lit up with sun as our car drove towards home; the view of the skyline when I left; the dodge balls as they barreled towards me; the way it felt to run in the rain, drunk and mad, screeching towards the bar like a five-year old on a sugar high.
I’d rather be able to forget, so that I can remember.

I completely agree. I personally have found myself posing for one too many photos with friends while I would much rather be enjoying myself doing the thing I'm trying to remember by taking the photo. I think good photography is great, and I also do think that this sort of photo has a place. Lots of people love a nice graduation photo, or a photo just before a ball, when everyone's all dressed nice. These mementos mean a lot to people, but please, if you're just going to another of Oxford's sticky-floored, bad-music riddled nightclubs, leave the camera at home and actually enjoy the night.

If it's great, you'll remember it. If it's not, seeing a staged, blurry or dull photo on facebook the next morning isn't going to mean that it was great.

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