Photographs and (bad) Memories

The problem with photography is that it’s unnatural. Please understand, I don’t mean “unnatural” in the sense of “abomination”, but only that it is not how we are supposed to live.

I am convinced we forget things for a reason.  And photography is all about preserving memories.

Now, obviously, preserving memories can be a good thing.  The birth of a child, wedding ceremonies, summer holidays, all of these contain those little details that are usually the first to go as time marches on away from those experiences.  And that’s a good thing.

However, the birthday party where none of your friends showed up, the time you crashed the car, seeing a grandparent in hospital, all of these are experiences that also fade as time marches away.  Only, with photography, they don’t.  They aren’t allowed to.  They exist right there, whether you want them to or not.

Again, it’s a problem because I am honestly convinced we forget things for a reason.

I can’t imagine maintaining any sort of relationship if I remembered clearly every argument, or every transgression. Or, if I remembered all the things that happened to me as a kid, I doubt I would have the courage or will to even get out of bed in the morning.  But, I have photographs. I have totally forgotten what out kitchen looked like growing up.  But, then, I have a photograph of it. The crappy clock above the doorway, the stove from the mid 1960’s, that putrid yellow paint.  It’s all there.  And, then I remember.

And this is the true power of photography.  It is not something that many people really understand.




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