August 03, 2010

"Drawing With Light".

Sometimes, when I contemplate the term my life, two emotions strike me almost immediately:
one, it has flown by so fast;
two, nothing much has happened.
Or rather; very little of what I wanted to happen, did.

I guess as any other flawed human being, I scrutinize my life endlessly and see easily the broken and unfulfilled dreams, rather then the richness, the milestones and the goals reached. Somehow they disappear among all the excess baggage and skeletons in the closet.

The other weekend, I was looking through a few boxes full of old photographs stored in my basement, in search of one picture needed to conclude one of my former posts. What I thought would take ten minutes turned into several hours of recollection and reminiscence. Although I have many photo albums lining my library shelves, which I quiet frequently look through, this was a very different experience all together. Gazing at pictures I have not seen for decades brought smile to my face and tears to my eyes, making me reevaluate that last statement about my life; a lot has happened in it indeed. I saw faces I have forgotten, adventures I have displaced in the dusty corners of my memory, snapshots in time captured without my knowledge, depicting loved ones and long gone friends. Moments in life printed, telling a story of the past.

This in turn made me contemplate the subject of photography itself. An art form in its own right, it conveys and serves as an expression of beauty, magic, pain and the blunt reality of our world. Photographs stir our emotions, they move us, challenge us, please us or appall us and make us travel geographically and in time. They capture subjects or situations, historical events, the highlights of our own life. All which appear frozen in time, as silent witnesses of the past, once focused on by a human being and immortalized in print through the lens of a camera.

The word "photograph" was coined in 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek φῶς (photos) "light" and γραφή (graphé) "representation by means of lines" or "drawing"; together meaning "drawing with light".
Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries, stretching all the way from the 5th century, perfected in the 12th and 15th centuries until the 19th century, when the photographs in the modern day sense were created.

Aside from all the scientific facts and explanation, what makes me curious is to ponder the reason to why photography was invented. It is obvious that already the ancient man depicted the reality perceived by cave paintings and drawings, which can be still seen today.
It must have been the desire to document that gave rise to the first primitive photographs. The longing to capture life truthfully, in all its beauty and splendor, with all its pain and suffering. After all, paintings are often illustration of how the artist that created them views the world. Often tainted by his or hers personal experience or preference, at times greatly removed from reality itself.

A photograph however never lies. It tells the story as it is. Even if the subject is chosen by the photographer and the perception of the captured story can wary - as they say, it is all in the eye of the beholder.
Still, a reflection "drawn with light" contributes greatly to the quality of our lives, whether it educates us or make us feel, or whether it just simply serves as a picture diary of a life lived...


Elizabeth said...

Old pictures have a way of taking us on memory-lane. That it is so important to photograph life and to write about it. Most of us forget the fine details of so many little baby-steps moments in our life.

Elisabeth said...

I know that feeling of being stirred up by photographs of the oast, Zuzanna and share it, but lately I've thought more about how much photos can distort the so-called truth, not just because of this new trend in digital enhancement but also because the contents of photographs tend to be constructed and posed.

I look back at photographs in which I feature as a young woman. For some I imagine I remember the taking of said photo and I think to myself how different the image appears from how I felt at the time.

There's more to this of course. There are un-posed photos, non-enhanced photos etc, the angle of portraiture, the elements of inclusion or exclusion etc.

Thanks Zuzanna for a beautifully written and enthralling post.

Brian Miller said...

my boys love to pull out boxes of old photos and then they will find one and say tell me this story...a lot has heppened in this life...nice post zuzana

steviewren said...

I've never thought about what man wanted or meant to use photography for when it was invented. Interesting post.

Life is fleeting. I love the memories that old photos hold on to.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

Wonderful thoughts Zuzana. And, as always are truly a WINDOW to our pasts...good and bad. So glad you were able to spend that time...

Anonymous said...

"Drawing with light". That phrase resonates with me, Zuzana. What a beautiful way to put it!

S. Susan Deborah said...

A very heartfelt and tender post. Photographs always do that to us. Loved the way this flowed. From your photographs to photographs in general.

Much love,

Bossy Betty said...

I just returned from my mom's house with two big boxes full of old photographs. Ah! The stories they tell. Loved this post!

Bossy Betty said...

I just returned from my mom's house with two big boxes full of old photographs. Ah! The stories they tell. Loved this post!

Kath said...

You're right as ever, I have just spent 3 months packing for our house move and must have browsed through 100s of photos.
I count myself lucky that since my son was born 21 years ago, I have always been able to afford a camera, with which to capture him growing up.
When we were little, a camera was a luxury my parents didnt have, so there are precious few photos, no first day at school, no sports days or trips to the beach and no photos of much loved pets.
Although the ones we are fortunate enough to have, are treasured.

Bhushavali said...

Its always photographs that keep several great memories alive!!!

A visit to India Gate at night
A Stroll at the Bhudha Jayanthi Park

Claus said...

I have often felt that it is only when one compares one's life to someone else's - even in the slightest way - that a feeling of either accomplishment or frustration raises. I think we all have been in that situation, however, it must not dictate how well or poor we have lead our journey. Just because we don't have what others do, it doesn't mean we have failed, or haven't squeezed every drop out of life. We are all different, and so are our lives.

Interesting insight on photography! I couldn't help but to think about the movie The Governess, with Minnie Driver. Have you seen it? It's set in the 1830s and she manages to print the capture of a camera on paper. It's a movie with a lot of twists, and boring to some, but I found it intersting. But then again, I always have liked period movies and novels! :-)

have a lovely day!! and keep living life your own way :-)

Sumandebray said...

some incidents to remember and some to forget!

Cat in the road said...

Sometimes everyday life clouds our emotions and memories.
Photos from the past have a way of rekindling a long lost scene hidden in the archives of our mind.
As we get older these “Moments captured in time” become more and more valuable.
You even stated; they have already brought a smile to your face.

sprinkles said...

Our lives are so different, yet your first 2 paragraphs make me realize just how alike we truly are!

The other day I was looking for a picture of my dog Shiver as a puppy. It's the only picture I have of him as a puppy. I think I may have thrown it away which I'm so disappointed about now! It was a picture of the two of us together and I look terrible in it. I think that's why I threw it away it.

It reminded me of when I when I was getting ready to graduate high school and we were supposed to bring in a baby picture. My mother poured through boxes and boxes of pictures of my brothers and could only find one picture of me when I was a newborn. I was in the hospital still and I had my hand in my face. My mom told me by the time I came around, she'd had three kids and didn't have time to be taking pictures. Yes, but I was the only girl! And Shiver is the only puppy I've ever had.

I don't know why I just told you that story.

Hilary said...

A beautiful post about a topic which you know means a lot to me. As always you express the wonders and magic so well. I'm not so sure that a photograph never lies. It very often does by exclusion. We can't see what lies just beyond the photo's frame. This can turn a tiny speck of a scene into something of major beauty when its surrounds might be utter chaos or rotting debris. That's the magic of the art.

SandyCarlson said...

I agree with you about photography. They show us aspects of the truth we might not otherwise see. We cannot hide from the truth that comes through the lens.

Thank you for your comment on my post regarding my friend. I and his parents do appreciate your thoughtfulness.

ma thet zin said...

Very nice

Phivos Nicolaides said...

So interesting and informative article. Thanks for sharing Zuzana.

NENSA MOON said...

Beautiful thought, Zuzana!!
I did agree with the last line...
Thanks for sharing your wonderful post.

Maria said...

I recently acquired a new mobile which has a small camera in it. This is quite exciting for me as I'll now be able to share the odd photo on my blog instead of just writing about hat happens in my life. There is a facility to enable black and white photos to and to tell you the truth, as I get older, I prefer photos of myself in black and white. They hide some of the harsh realities rather well. I find coloured photographs just give too much information

tony said...

Photography is unique in that it crossed Art& Technology.It mixes up both? And it give us the space to create our own meaning & memory.More radical really than even the Internet?

Sukanya said...

Loved ur post Zuzana. I totally agree that Photography is one of the best inventions. Photos makes us look back at our lives and bring back our memory lines intact. And thanks for stopping by my post Zuzana.Nice to know that you are also July born. My birthday was on 2nd July. When is yours?

Anonymous said...

This is one outstanding post. I loved how you brought emotion into the subject. You are something else! Hope you are having a great day today! Wishing blessings your way! :) The Bach

Holly said...

So many beautiful posts recently Z!! But this one really struck me.

My sister and I were just talking about this the other day. That so many of the things that we 'planned' for our lives never happened. How we could plan ourselves 'blue in the face' and life would still sort of just take its own coarse.

I want you to know Z that I think you are exceptional!! I think that you have lived a crazy-amazing life so far, full of nearly unbelievable adventures!

I do have to agree with the fact that it goes by way to quickly. I am really happy for you that you get to spend some time with your sister soon. I hope it is wonderful!!

xoxo -Holly

Rajesh said...

Photographs themselves speak. When photography is pursued it is a very satisfying experience. Every photographer alway feels, there is still scope for improvement after every shot.

Unknown said...

Zuzana: You've no doubt read my many references to my late Cousin, who died young of breast cancer. When I graduated college in 99', she wrote me a note that began this way: "Clearly, it's never too late..." I think this is true of you too. You are young. Seize it. Nail down some of those left over items on that list! lol! :)

Blogaire said...

This is a certainly a very topical post Zuzana for all us photo bloggers. Photographs are indeed priceless and I can understand the emotions those old photos you rediscovered in your basement stirred in you. I think it was Rod Stewart who released an album once called "Every Picture Tells a Story" - and they do!
And reading your post I delved into my music library and dug out a song called "Photograph" by former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
Thanks for your recent nice comments as usual Zuzana - in Spain I have a very very slow Internet and I am only now revisiting your blogs that I am back in colder Autumny Dublin.

Zuzana said...

Elizabeth, Elisabeth, Brian, Stevie, Jill, Tony, Susan, Betty, Kath, Bhushavali, Claudia, Sumandebray, F, sprinkles, Hilary, Sandy, ma thet zin , Phillip, Nensa, gaelikaa, tony, Sukanya, The Bach, Holly, Rajesh, Michael and Blogaire; what a delight it was to read all your comments and your versatile opinions about photography and photographs and the way they capture and reflect our reality and our life.

I love to read your kind words as they make me think in return and there is nothing more rewarding then the way that the opinions of others trigger our own cognitive process.

Thus thank you all for your time, your visits are so vital to me at all times.:))


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Absolutely Ladylike said...

Oh how much I love this post!