Photographs are the product of light and time
I came across that sentence or something pretty close to it last week, and it’s been ricocheting about my brain like a pinball in play ever since. I wish I could remember where I read it so that I could attribute it properly. If you know – if it’s a famous quote that I’m just now seeing – please tell me. I don’t wish to take credit for anything more than being struck by its truth.
Light and Time are two of the most ephemeral, elusive elements in life. Time, though we’re all guilty of trying to slow or speed it, to reverse or to freeze it, moves at its own pace oblivious to any of our attempts at manipulation. Light, literally and figuratively, brings life and color to our world, and without it, even for a few days, I know I can be brought so low.
That these two uncontrollable, ungraspable, existence-defining forces come under our power when we make a photograph is an idea I find pregnant with wonder. I suspect it’s the key to the magic of photography explained for me, and in this instance, knowing the trick does nothing to spoil the effect.
On the contrary, understanding that time and light are the substance of a photograph, provides me with fresh appreciation for the power I can wield with a camera. The ubiquity of modern photography – the digital 0s and 1s, shot by the burst-load and possibly never again revisited, may inure us to this reality, but the potential is always there, even if it remains untapped.
With a camera in hand we can stop time; we can harness the sun; we can make our own meaning and our own magic. These awesome, alchemical powers are in all likelihood in your palm right now as you read. How will you use them today?