I was thinking about photographs. We have one photo I really love that was taken years ago by a professional photographer, a good friend of ours. The location is idyllic; it is on our lake property by “the tunnel” and I think the photo evokes thoughts and emotions. It feels calm and peaceful and perfect. Who wouldn’t want to be there in that place with those people?
To me, what is most interesting about this photo is not what you see but what you don’t. And that is my point. You bring what you know to the photo you are viewing and, as long as you aren’t in the photo or taking it, you have no idea really of what you are seeing. In my peaceful and beautiful family photo you do not see the 4 year old daughter of the photographer balancing precariously on that log at the left of the photo. You do not hear our chocolate lab barking and tearing around on the rocks because he desperately wants to be with us. Why didn’t we include him in the photo, I wonder? You have no idea how frustrated I am with my oldest son because he was so late getting to the lake that we almost lost the light. And you have no idea that the photographer’s feet are numb because he’s been standing in that cold northern lake for so long.
And today, in this digital age, things are even more complicated. Everything, and I mean every single element, can be manipulated, cropped, changed, added to, subtracted from, embellished—how are we to tell where reality begins or ends? Seeing is believing? I’m not so sure of that.