Photographing something that captures the situation you’re in emotionally and in life, while reflecting something about wherever you are in space, can be a deeply revelatory experience. When I try to take such shots I’m often alone with just some music or podcast and a camera, and exploring areas that are sometimes brand new and other times are well tread shooting grounds. Sometimes I want to get a particular ‘feeling’ — one that, only afterwards, I tend to realize reflects where I was emotionally at the time — and other times I want to deliberately try to shoot for a certain kind of colour, shadow, or pattern. Quite often, it’s only after looking at photos taken during the session that I realize that a certain kind of emotion was really behind my shooting choices.
If I’m being honest, the experiential nature of photography really only hits me as I look through my photos, after taking them, after processing them, and after I set them to display through my TV (my ‘best of’ photos are my Apple TV’s screensaver). I need to see them, repeatedly, in order to appreciate what is in them. Sometimes it’s months before I really realize what was really going on in a given photo. Sometimes, even years later, I may know that particular shots are important to how I was at the time but still can’t quite describe why I know this to be the case. I can (at least somewhat) deconstruct the technical elements of the photos but can’t necessarily also identify the meaning of the photo I took.
At the same time, there are times when society asserts that I “should” want to hunt for photos, but I’m disinterested in doing so because I don’t want to try and capture the emotional or physical space I’m in, in the amber that is a photograph. Sometimes I want to ride out experiences; rather than hold onto them in perfect perpetuity, I want to leave them in the malleable space of human memory with the knowledge that how I remember the past will inevitably change over time as the temporal distance between my current existence and that memory grows and extends. Sometimes I want to experience to grow and contract, through and with me, instead of act as a defined anchor to a given time or place.
It’s that difference — between choosing to hold times in the amber of a photo versus storing it purely in the mind — that I’ve been mulling in my mind for the past little while. Some of the photos I have manage to capture times that are joyous, others melancholy, others full of light and joy, and yet others alienation and loneliness. And I tend to tightly hold onto the meaning of the photographs I’ve taken: I don’t go out of my way to explain my photography to anyone else, nor do I think it’s something that I need to do. Shutter therapy is just that: a kind of physical and intellectual therapy. But there are specific moments that I deliberately keep separate from my camera, and they’re often times wherein people are most likely to entrap time in amber, such as vacation or celebration. But I’ve found myself less and less excited to engage in such photography over the past several months.
I’m not entirely certain why: perhaps the weather has just been so miserable that it’s had an impact on my motivations to shoot. But equally possible it’s because something is changing in how I approach photography itself, at least right now: I don’t want as many amber memories, and instead want to enjoy the development and unfolding of certain memories, and feel more comfortable in the knowledge that the ‘final’ memories I’ll have will be even more subjective than those associated with photographs. Some will even vanish in their entirety. I don’t know why this is my current state of mind but, regardless, it’s an interesting intellectual moment that is prompting reflection on my photography, what drives it, and the relationship between amber memory and living memory.
“If you can change one thing about yourself then please be kinder and change how you end things because it matters way more than how you begin them.”
– Sartaj Anand
New Apps and Great App Updates from this Week
- iOS 11.3 dropped last week and for the entire time I’ve been testing the Notes application pretty regularly to see if it’s stopped freezing, crashing, and otherwise not working properly. It seems to be working once more, which is a huge relief as huge portions of my life are locked up in the application. Not sure what was broken, or how it got fixed, but I’m pretty happy to discover that things are working once more!
Great Photography Shots
Many of the winning shots for the Smithsonian’s 15th Annual photo contest are just spectacular.
Music I’m Digging
Neat Podcast Episodes
Good Reads for the Week
- What smartphone photography is doing to our memories
- How Do You Unlearn Your Parents’ Fucked Up Money Habits?
- Why Does Dating Men Make Me Feel Like Shit?
- Like-Minded Versus Like-Hearted
- Why the crypto-backdoor side is morally corrupt
- Silent Majority: Is the Hill just paying lip service to the idea of sexual accountability?
- This is what Alexa looks like – according to some people on the internet