Thursday, February 7, 2013

Am I a thief?

When I take your picture, am I stealing your soul? Take a look at the photograph above. Someone is inadvertently stealing someone else's joy. Not intentional for sure. (I know because I asked) but nevertheless darkness trumps joy here.

But how about your essence captured in a photograph? Just a memory that can easily be deleted or stored for perpetuity? Aren't there some cultures that even believe there are small people inside the camera body? Foolish for us but in a culture bereft of science, superstition and mythology rule the day. Hmm . . . sounds a little bit like religion, doesn't it?

Can I steal something from you when I take your picture? Maybe it's quite ineffable, maybe metanoic, maybe just something beyond our ken. When I push the shutter, I've caught you. I can post-process you, manipulate you, even make you disappear. But all of this is just illusory, right? just like our "real" existences - completely tangible, physical and "real"

Think about it. Are our lives but just a dream. Jung and Freud loved examining the dream life. Wouldn't it be nice to have cameras that could take photographs of our dreams? Or would that be a frightening prospect?

Have I caught you in my camera? Am I a thief?


  1. The Aboriginal kids I worked with for a decade loved me taking their photo!

  2. I always found photography to be freezing a moment. Susan Sontag, this moviemaker and writer said it best: “To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.”