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.
Have we become dependent on photos to confirm our reality?
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,