Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Capturing the moment results in preserving the memory

Newspaper reporters always complain how the newspaper, and their story, was read today, but was only good to wrap fish the next day. Nobody saved their story, nobody reread their stories, or talked about it. It was quickly forgotten. Readers forgot the story, threw the paper out at the end of the day and waited for next day's paper to come.

We all thought we were recording and preserving history. Bringing awareness of issues that would motivate people to work toward building a better community.

As a photographer, I worked hard to learn what was going to happen, then try be in the right place at the right time to capture the moment. Get the who, what, where, when in the picture. Feeling I was saving for archeologists the decisive moment as it quickly passed by. Stopping time, so viewers could see what happened, then understand and appreciate it.

Time passes by so quickly, so fast the still photo is a useful tool, capturing all the details that fly by and often missed. Video images show reality, but you still miss it. You remember the sound, not the images in video. Photos, still and video, need to be rewatched to help us remember the moment. Remember what happened.

I thought photography would help motivate people into action to stop the war, help the needy, appreciate the local cultural events and make it a better community.  That's how I saw newspaper photography. And I thought we needed to preserve all the successes and challenges of today, to be reviewed and shared tomorrow.

Photography did it better than words.
Group selfie before going on a trip.

That's how I saw things, that's what drove me to become a newspaper photographer.

But wait, I then realize that to know the whole story, you need SOME words to fill in blanks. Tell who is in the photo, what was the event, where was it, and why saw everyone there.  Yeah, the picture captured the moment, but it doesn't tell all the facts.

Back when I started in the 60's, family photos were taken with a Kodak Instamatic. With Tri-X and the faster 400 ASA film the pros were moving to take advantage of 35mm. Still it was heavy equipment, you didn't know what you had till the roll of film was developed and then prints made. Time consuming and expensive.

Things have changed. Now you carry a SMART phone that is a movie camera still camera, a radio, internet connection, picture album, and a phone. Instantly, we see what photo/video was captured by the phone, and can share it with others around the world. Instantly, but do they take the time to open it, then delete it?

Sure is simple these days, but we are overwhelmed with pictures. It is changing the way we treasure them?

I wonder if the photo is losing meaning, is it becoming like the daily newspaper that a day later is, "simply something to wrap the fish."