Exploring Photography in a Digital Age
While hanging out with some new friends a couple of days ago, they found out I take pictures and asked to see some. I pulled my phone out, found a bunch of my hometown (Tallinn, Estonia… Google it!), and let them scroll through.
I got kind of nervous. There wasn’t anything to hide, it was just Tallinn, but I always get nervous when people go through my phone. I guess I’m afraid of what they’ll find, like maybe I took too many selfies or they’ll come across the ridiculous sibling photos that we took that one time and think, whatever… But yeah, I felt weird.
“Cool… Nice… Whose baby is this?” one of them finally asked, and I knew they’d gotten to the end of my Tallinn pics and found my nephew, who I wasn’t quite ready to share. (Maybe it’s an Estonian thing.) I made some lame comment to change the subject and, with as much grace as I could awkwardly manage, retrieved my phone. And we went on to talk and laugh about other things, other things that weren’t as close to me.
Our pictures are personal. They say something about us because we’re like magnets, and we take pictures of things we’re drawn to. We make ‘images’ – they’re the closest we come to getting to keep the real things.
So when I look through my pictures… What would my life be like if I actually did get to keep the things, all the things, that I take pictures of? What would I be surrounded with? And would my life be enough? Would there be anything missing?
If I just took selfies and got to keep only myself, I’d be lonely. So lonely. If I only traveled and took pictures of far-away places, I think I’d be lonely too. And if I only took goofy pictures of family and friends, maybe I would be a step closer to happy, but maybe that wouldn’t be enough either.
It’s all of it.
I’m collecting what my life is about. And pictures are part of that, pictures of all the things I would wish to keep, pictures of all the things that point to what I want close to me.
I want to keep beautiful things, like the flowers that are my favorites for no reason, and sunsets on the sea, and the spires of my city, and places new to me. I want to keep good things, like the faces of my family and friends and the crazy things I come across that make me laugh. I want to keep things that make me think and keep me grounded, like the poverty I’ve seen, like the joy in the eyes of people who have less and love more than me. And I want selfies, too, because here I am. This is my life, and I’m living it.
This is your life, and you’re living it. What do you want to keep?
Something to think about until the next part in my photography series on Capturing the Moment. If you missed the introduction, read it here, and check back for the upcoming installment in the series: Your Pictures and Others.