Thoughts on Photgraphy, possibly new. Probably not.

Posted on April 18, 2015
Updated September 11, 2019

Nirvana plays, something seems off. I don’t listen to nirvana, not since I was 14.

It seems fitting though. I’m thinking about street photography. Music made by a band led by a man who took his own life. The music is great, the lyrics are smart. 

Street photography is similar. Photography in general is I suppose, but documentary photography in general more so and street in particular.

What is a photograph? It’s a moment in time, among other things. But the moment is divorced from reality, separated from cause and consequence. The moment exists on its own, in a photo. It’s not real, of course. Only reality is real. A photograph is just a photograph. And that’s why we love them. When we look at a world where every moment exist for its owns sake, not the future or the past, and a chord is struck within us. 

While photos exist containing their moments unchanged,  life goes on. Good happens, bad happens. The eyes of a man searching for his next high may belie angst, in a way we find interesting, perhaps, but they won’t belie his terrible future. Am image of an attractive woman with a vicious scowl belies her personality, but it doesn’t belie the hard road ahead of her as her face comes to suit her personality. No, we’re stuck in this moment. This time when a drug addict is alive and breathing, savable, perhaps, but on a downward path. This  second where a woman is both terrible and beautiful, not one or the other. This is the power of a photograph: to litter reality, for our pleasure, with irrelevant but appealing traces of the past. At their best, they inspire. At their worst, they expose us to trajectories which lead to suffering, but without making that obvious.

But that’s just pretentious talking. The moment, for what it is, is great. We don’t need to change or learn anything, we just need to be aware that we exist, to ther, in an infinite moment.