A Moment in Time Photography

The last light of the day on the first day of Spring 2015 looking down at the Yarra River in Abbotsford, Melbourne.

The notion of a moment in time has long been associated with photography. The very act of making photos preserves, for posterity, important moments from our lives.

Here’s a lovely scene from an exploration I undertook along the banks of the Yarra River in Abbotsford, an inner city suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

It was twilight and my attention was transfixed by the sense of stillness emanating from the scene which felt, somehow, suspended in time.

Because of the timeless quality that we often associate with black and white photos I decided this image was well suited to a warm tone, black and white rendering.

A Photo Is A Moment In time

A few seconds before this image was made a bird had taken to flight from the surface of the water. A few seconds after I’d made the image a kayaker passed through the scene.

The notion of a photograph being a documentary record is fine, just as long as we understand that the reality that’s presented is of the moment.

You see a photograph has its very own, unique truth expressed within a moment in time.

The Moment Between Events

But a photo also represents the moment between events and, from that perspective, the bird and the kayaker can only exist in our imagination.

Of course the river is both a place of serenity and a place of activity, for birds and kayakers alike.

I believe that, by bringing our own stories and interpretations to an image, we create our own reality.

I think that’s true when we’re talking about the photographer’s direct experience of the subject or scene depicted.

But I also think it’s true for any understandings or conclusions an individual viewer might take from the image based upon their own unique experiences and interpretations.

However, the perception formed by the viewer of a location existing outside of their own, personal experience could also be considered second hand.

That’s simply because the image was created by the photographer in that single moment in time during which the camera’s shutter was released.

The Reality Of The Moment

I think it’s fair to say that perceptions, memories and/or understandings of that moment will differ between the photographer, the viewer and the subject depicted.

However, I also believe that the reality of that moment exists within and, therefore, belongs to the photograph itself.

Needless to say that particular reality may not, strictly speaking, be wholly representative of the scene or subject in question.

Here’s a few interesting examples that come to mind.

  • A tiny flat is represented as a spacious apartment

  • A dense and chaotic forest becomes a place of symmetry and order

  • The child transforms from cantankerous to cute

  • The employee changes from disruptive to cooperative

  • The boss mutates from ogre to angel

First Day Of Spring

It’s been a typically drab, grey winter in Melbourne this year. But the photo of the Yarra River in inner city Melbourne was made on the first day of spring, which was a lovely day.

I’ve travelled to much colder places than Melbourne, which is a great city. But Melbourne is a tad grey for me during winter.

I figure if it’s going to be cold, it might as well snow. It might as well be beautiful.

Anyway the weather’s improving and I’m very much looking forward to longer days. Sunshine is a special thing. It lifts the soul and clears the head.

The abundance of light we experience, during the warmer months of the year, renews hopes and dreams and gets us back outside and in touch with nature.

This is a great time of year when the slow march of winter is replaced with the livelier, more vital gait of spring.

And I love how that fact is echoed in our own, more vigorous approach to life with the arrival of spring.

All Things Shall Pass

August 31 is a difficult day. It’s the anniversary of my dad’s passing. This year marked the 14th anniversary of that day, an easy date to remember as it’s the last day of winter.

September 1, particularly when it’s going to be a sunny day, is always a day I look forward to. It marked the end of my dad’s decline and, I’d like to think, a new beginning free of pain and suffering.

This makes me consider if we have any awareness after death. In particular it causes me to consider the concept of nothing.

In this context is nothing simply the space between something and something else. Or, if you prefer, between somewhere and somewhere else.

For example, the physical distance between atoms or stars and the time it might take to travel between those two points.

Perhaps it’s more like the distance between musical notes. Without the spaces between notes there would only be sound, without form or structure.

I propose that beauty resides between the notes and I wonder if other things might as well.

It’s an interesting concept, the answer to which remains largely lost to us when viewed through the perspective of linear time. 

While we continue to explore both the cosmic and the micro in our quest for understanding, perhaps the most important journey we undertake will be inward.

A journey towards a greater awareness and a keener perception of the connectedness we all share with each other and the universe.

Fred Guy, RIP

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru