Photographs are very deeply intertwined with my memories. As are dreams, but that’s for another post.
Pondering recently I realised photography is as important to helping me to remember as to forget.
I photograph to remember…
I love having a way to capture family moments on a medium other than just my memories. Plus you can’t project your memories directly on to a living room wall, or print it and mount them in a frame, or share them with other people.
Looking through photographs of moments from years ago helps me appreciate all we’ve enjoyed together, and all we have to be grateful for – then, and now.
Without photography, I would of course still have my memories. But they’re not so reliable or as easily accessible, nor as organised as my photos.
So I photograph to remember.
I photograph to forget…
When I’m out wandering with camera, hunting for interesting and beautiful compositions, I’m mostly slowly processing random thoughts and ideas in my mind, trying to formulate some kind of order.
The moments where I see something that might want to capture with camera, I switch to a state of mind that’s far more focused. I’m thinking only about what’s in the viewfinder or screen, and making the minor adjustments I need to, so the scene looks how I want it to.
Once the shutter clicks, I snap back to reality, and that gentle thinking again, pulled once more out of the calm immersive reverie those moments of composition require.
It’s in these brief periods of time – sometimes a couple of seconds, sometimes maybe 30 or more – that I forget everything else.
I forget anything I’m worried or anxious about. I forget that I’m too hot, or tired, or thirsty, or hungry. I forget what I have planned for the rest of the day or what’s gone before. Everything is just here and now, right in that rectangle. And it’s beautiful.
This is an experience I find incredibly precious, and very necessary.
Without photography, I could still go out and walk the same places, and I would still gain many of the same benefits – exercise, fresh air, seeing beautiful compositions.
But I wouldn’t be looking as closely, or lingering as long. The immersion wouldn’t be as frequent, or as deep, or as restorative.
So I photograph to forget.
How is photography connected with your memories? Do you photograph to remember, to forget, or both?
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