Kodak moments

It’s funny. Photography is considered to be, despite the apparent ease of actually taking a photograph, a fine art. That’s only because, unlike real paintings, photography’s knack is in capturing the moment. A glimpse into an earlier timeframe from a certain angle in a certain colour-mode.

The revolution must’ve started out artists demanded better means to photorealistically depict their subjects, and inventors answered with a primitive image capturing device that has since gained a cult following of its own. The concept was simple; to capture the very photons that made the subject visible and have them personally imprint their essence, the “information” they would’ve carried to the eye, to a photographic plate covered in chemicals that reacted instantly in the presence of light. Why not?

Then came the age of portraits. People who were sick and tired of having rather “flat” pictures of themselves [esp the big shots] on the wall, decided that this new invention, the camera, would be a novel way of getting a print of their residual self-image [I’ll get to this later. Remind me.] Time went along; photo-taking became cheaper and everyone jumped into the fray. ‘Tis imperative to realise that artists previously used to paint portraits either for the money and/or for the challenge of photorealism in achieving the vibrancy of the original shades and hues AND NOT because making portraits was a particularly easy or fun job.

Even today, most families/people who’re not in photography as a profession take pictures of themselves or their immediate neighbours [which is true. You may know them; but if you can’t see them, you can’t take a photo of them] as a rule. This is not wrong of course. Who am I to dictate what you do or don’t do with your camera? Go ahead, take a picture, or two. Start a porn site with all your pictures for all I should care.

I’ll just get to the point then. I am not against photography. I believe in Kodak moments. But I think posing for photographs is lame. It beats the “higher purpose” of photography. If your aim is to just have pictoral evidence of a gathering, gather yourselves and get yourselves painted. As I said earlier, photography’s gift is in capturing the moment. As such, the artificial nature of a pose surely and readily will make itself known in a photo cos a photo, or should I say a camera’s lens, isn’t prejudiced. And we all know hoe abolutely lame and artificial painted portraits look. I’m NOT insulting the skill or talent of the artist, merely the mundane-ness of the subject. [The following is a semi-humourous fictional reference] The Masonic “all-seeing” eye is in fact the humble digicam that you have stashed unappreciatively in the bottom of your bag.

Lemme reiterate: Posing suck, poseurs.

One may point out to me the highly successful industry of glamour and fashion photography and its focal emphasis on portraits. Even in such shoots, professioal photographers realise that posing unnaturally, smiling a five-second quickie and or doing amusing, exotic and sadly, pathetic bodily contortions is pretty disgusting actually [to look at and to capture] and generally do not resort to such primitive unrefined methods. Surely one must’ve come across a video of a photoshoot being done and will notice that there’s usually a LOT of movement during the shoot. The model is constantly pouting and smiling or guffawing [as is her charcter or mood at that point in time] in response to the [usually jovial] commands of the photographer.

Give me demure. Give me slutty. Give me vamp. Give me gothic. Give me innocence.

The aim of the photographer, I think] is NOT to capture the final pose, but the transition state between the poses.

The irony of it all is that a still’s seeming purpose is to capture the inevitability of kinesis. To capture that fleeting instant which will never ever be emulated or mimicked to the same level of perfection ever again. Ah another observation. I now think that photography subtly encourages the idea that every moment was meant to be, or that it was the best way something could’ve turned out cos it couldn’t have been any other way. If it could have, then it would have [refer to Murphy’s Law and infer the opposite]. [And probably did in a parallel universe?]

To me, a photo is a trigger for a memory. You may be in any situation, and suddenly it all becomes surreal; time slows down. You feel the ambience of even normal everyday background noise. You feel astral, looking down on yourself from behind you [much like a third-person shooter]. You notice that that particular moment is actually quite mundane out of context; but while in that particular frame of time and mind, it feels significant to you and mentally you take a snapshot of everyone and everything as a stock image in your personal mental gallery under the category of “Idyllic“.
This is actually also a pretty melancholic moment as well when you realise that perhaps you will not always be this happy, or that these people will not always be around you or that this kind of moment may never happen again. Discreetly, and quietly, [so as to not significantly affect the general ambience of that scene] you sneak some distance away, whip out your camera, and from the vantage point of your astral eyes, take a quick shot WITHOUT alerting anyone that you’re actually taking a photograph. And THAT will be a valuable photograph [at least sentimentally].
At this juncture, one must realise that what I’ve just described automatically excludes your presence in the photograph. Absolutely right; want a Nobel Prize for that?

Why is the self necessarily absent from a photograph taken by self? I don’t know if what I have noticed is universal, [and if it’s not, then I will raise the question of whether reality is absolute or only as absolute as we perceive it to be?] but you usually never look the same in a photo as what you see of yourself in a mirror. This may be bad, or even good for some.
But personally I think if the image [or part of it] is seemingly inconsistent with what you believe it should’ve looked like, then it’s a corrupted memory trigger in that it will either distract one away from the memory and into self-conciousness, thereby not serving its purpose, or you just won’t like to keep the photo [self-hate self-hate].
Is it relevant to talk about Baudrillard here? What you see in a mirror is already a image and unreal. To use that to compare with something else is like using a frayed map to define one’s territory.

Oh well.


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