“I keep your picture by my bed, for when I’m feeling sad and I don’t know why I would be. The way your smile looks so real, I feel like I could start to understand your grace.”
Ok, so yes this quote is a love song – but it does relate to photographs in general.
Have you ever looked at a photo – one that captures a perfect memory – purely to be reminded of that moment? As though photographic evidence brings you closer to that time than replaying the memory in your mind does?
I do it all the time. The way a photograph can bring a smile to your face or a tear to your eye is kind of magical. We capture these occasions to enable us to treasure memories – whether the memories are of certain people in our lives, holidays we never want to forget, momentous occasions in our lives like taking our first step or getting married or even just to remind us of objects we used to have or homes we used to live in.
I love to look back at childhood photographs, looking not only at the people in them, but where they were taken and how much has changed since then. Photographs are like a pictorial journal through time, and they capture the things we don’t see ourselves at the time they were taken. Only when we look back do we notice every minute detail – and that is because we want to. We want to see everything because it helps us to better relive the moments in our minds. We want to see the texture of the carpet in the photo so that it helps us to better remember what it used to feel like, and as much as I adore black and white photography, we love to see the colours. To think that once, it was fashionable to have pale pink walls and brown velvet furniture in the living room and that it was more than OK to have a completely clashing outfit of every colour under the rainbow.
My grandma once said to me ‘you don’t remember sensible things’ when myself and my sister failed to recall what the roses in our front garden looked like the year before. This was obviously her being over dramatic, because she knows how much we treasure what we have, who we were and where we have come from. Because of this, I decided to start a collection of photos that I would entitle ‘You don’t remember sensible things’, an ironic title. Quite unoriginal, but personal. I love the idea of capturing objects in the family that mean a lot to us. So far, I have photographed my grandma’s engagement ring, and a small section of my dad’s china collection.. Next will be the family grandfather clock. Hugely iconic.
As the collection unfolds, I hope to have visual memories of the things I treasure and that mean a lot to the family. Whether or not anyone else understands or appreciates the idea behind this, I will finish it. The photographs will be instant links to the memories of things I am nostalgic for, and who knows, maybe one day they’ll bring a smile to my face or a tear to my eye.
So, how much do you truly see when you look at a photograph?