The Photograph

I don’t mean, you understand, any photograph in particular; rather, I mean the photograph in general, that moment when you press the shutter and quite literally freeze time in a frame.

I could wax lyrical about daguerrotypes and pinhole cameras and camera obscuras, but the long and short of it is this: that we are all of us miracle workers, for we record the animate business of life on a 2D representation which will prompt us and haunt us years, decades into the future.

So that the first pictures, taken in the final quarter century of the nineteenth century, stare fixedly at us in grave monochrome. Some of those early faded moments enchant us, some spook us. But we look back at families ravaged by the first war, women in bustles and starched black frocks; young men in the outfits they will leave in, forever, to go and die; these moments have a clear and present nature even 125 years after the shutter came down on that scene.

Today I salute the photograph. I would love it if you might share your most iconic moment: one which resounds across the years as some of mine do to me. We are all of us sorcerers and alchemists, trapping life on a sheet of glossy paper and looking at it, years later, when our eyes are watery and rheumy, and full of sleep, and remembering it as if it were yesterday. Here are some of mine.

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22 thoughts on “The Photograph

  1. Love the photo of the princesses, Big Al, Maddie, and Felix. Gosh, how they’ve changed in no time (though please don’t repeat that. I never wanted to hear how much I was changing at their ages……nor do I now. Ha.)

    Life with MTM has produced several (for me) iconic photographs. Mugging in front of Sydney Harbor Bridge. Staring down a New Zealand glacier. Sweating in front of a golden Buddha. Tripping through Montreal snow on Christmas Eve. But my singular photograph, were I able to post it here, would be of me in a muddy field of daffodils, a moment that altered my life. I’m glad I thought to snap a picture.

  2. My single photograph does not yet exist. It is one of two that I have never mnaged to take and be satisfied with yet for one, or have the right equipment yet for the other. I have wanted to take both for a long time now, and I keep trying. Don’t know why, but of all the shots I have tried it is always these two I want the most. The first is a full shot of a dragonfly with the jewelline colours just right and the wings clearly out and showing the veins. The other is the northern lights, in a full spectral display, like a shifting rainbow effect on a black velvet background. I am hoping that, someday, my patience pays off and I achieve both. 🙂

    1. Raven,what a beautiful comment, thank you. I can see your yet-to-capture photographs in my mind’s eye. Heres to the day they materialise into this existence on a sheet of glossy paper.

  3. Fantastic photos. I wonder if our digital ones will stand the test of time like the physical examples do? My favorite of all the photos I have ever taken is of my two kids when we were on vacation and you could just see their personalities in their eyes – the big sister and the little brother just being themselves.

    1. Holiday lights up the eyes like few other things, Michael, and when we are small it is such distilled joy to be on hols with our family. It sounds like a beautiful photograph.

  4. Love the pictures, but they open a lot of ‘why’s. Why the jump? Where was the gateway? What were the coronets for? Why sit in the road – separately, dog and human?

    1. Hi Col : 1. Because he was playing football and the ball was on its way; 2. Dover Castle on a misty morning one late August; 3. Giggles 4. Because they closed Westminster Brisge and I was swanking that I could sit in the centre of it and not get run over by a Routemaster 😀 I have not included dog-and-human pix here because I have a big extra drive to hold my photograph and they are all stuck on that!

  5. You family look happy and fun. My husband has a photo of him jumping on a trampoline right by a cliff, and he looks like he’s up in space. He was maybe 10 at the time. It’s one of those iconic photos that made him see himself as adventurous. 🙂

  6. Now I am thinking about my photographs… I can’t imagining choosing a single photograph over all the others. Somewhere, there is a 70’s round-edged Kodak print of me with my pageboy hair and terrible 70’s clothes, standing in my dog’s dish. It was an ordinary day, but my Mom caught that moment, and it always reminds me to find my whimsy again.

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