In Which I Wonder About The Reality Of Photographs



Harold: Why are there no photographs in these frames?

Maude: They were representations of people I dearly loved yet they knew these people were gradually fading from me, and that in time all I would have left would be vague feelings – but sharp photographs! So I tossed them out. My memory fades, I know. But I prefer pictures made by me with feeling, and not by Kodak with silver nitrate.

Harold & Maude
Quoted from the Daily Script

Have we become dependent on photos to confirm our reality?

I have.

I was thrilled to find out that Cara Mitchell had photos of Milton from the show [Show Report]. It happened! I was there! I have proof! We don’t look so bad!

I wasn’t even primarily excited about visuals for the blog. I already had Husband Greg’s ribbon shot. I was simply happy the photos existed.

I could make a case that one learns from photos. For example, the corkscrew down the long side did not look as extreme as it felt. Milton’s head is definitely to the outside, keeping his eye on the umbrellas just out of frame, and you can see from this feet that he is four-tracking rather than traveling straight. But it rode as if he was going completely sideways. Wherein lies the truth?

I completely buy into this. When we went down to Silver Lining Equestrian Center for a jumping lesson [Up & Over], I deliberately dressed in my good britches, a well-fitted shirt, and my show hat, into the hopes that someone would be taking pictures. Again, thank you Ms. Mitchell.

I refuse to blame smartphones and social media. All they have done is make it easier to indulge our obsession with documentation. When I was in school, one day every year was School Picture Day. (Do they still do this?) A professional photographer would construct a backdrop in one of the rooms. We all filed through one by one to sit in front the mottled blue background. The resulting image would be sold by the package to be sent to grandparents &/or non-resident parents &/or anyone who wondered what we looked like cleaned up. Somewhere is a picture frame with my headshots arranged in a circle from kindergarten to senior year, as if 13 years of my life could be summed up in 13 bits of paper.

I think about the Harold & Maude quote often. If I were a more enlightened person, would I rely on my lived experience rather than external proof? Will my memories of the show gradually erode down to these two images? Is that a bad thing?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

3 thoughts on “In Which I Wonder About The Reality Of Photographs

  1. It is not bad to rely on photos. Our memories fade over the years. I’m getting ready to redo all my photo albums. If a photo is of a good memory, keep it. (remember how I was all over the place with my camera at shows and events when Priney was retired?) On the other hand, if a photo brings bad memories, toss it! I’ve already removed all traces of my estranged brother except one I can’t without hurting the part showing my late uncle. After 40 years, my brother is dead to me. But friends – even ones with whom I’ve lost touch, my old house the way it looked when we moved in in 1963…good memories. Just too many duplicates – I used to keep everything!
    I have my class pictures from 3rd grade to 6th grade. From 4th grade to 6th, I look exactly the same.

  2. True. I love seeing pics of rooms & former houses that I happened to snap or that ended up in the background. We don’t take enough pictures of the ordinary things. Or at least, we didn’t used to. Now the dog’s breakfast is getting photographed. Literally. There are two Instagram accounts by that name. But I digress.

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