Thursday, October 11, 2012

What I can see is what I am not

Rora put his black Canon down in his lap, then under the table. He snapped a picture of the graces' legs, covering the click with a false cough.

Why did you take that picture?

That's a stupid question, Rora said. I take pictures.

Why do you take pictures?

I take pictures because I like to look at the pictures I take.

It seems to me that when people take a picture of something, they instantly forget about it.

So what?

So nothing, I shrugged.

They can look at the picture and remind themselves.

But what do you see when you look at a picture you took?

I see the picture, Rora said. What's with these questions?

When I look at my old pictures, all I can see is what I used to be but am no longer. I think: What I can see is what I am not.

Drink more coffee, Brik, Rora said. It will pick you up.

The waitress came by with our coffees, so I drank more of it.

— from The Lazarus Project, by Aleksandar Hemon.

There's something about taking pictures that removes you from the moment, yet it's often all that remains of the moment once it has passed. When I look at pictures I've taken, no matter how poorly framed, how badly lit, I see idealized moments, not real ones. What do you see when you look at a picture you took?
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