The Fleeting Moment

Illustration by Lauren Gorfinkel

Illustration by Lauren Gorfinkel

When was the last time you readily took out your phone and snapped a quick selfie or group picture? It wasn’t always this easy to create a photograph and capture a moment in time, which you can already tell from the verb I choose to describe the photographic process today. As a generation of "Instagrammers" and selfie-takers, we’re so accustomed to taking photos, but have we ever really created any?

The true meaning of creating a photograph, I believe, varies from individual to individual. To me personally, creating a photograph is about capturing a fleeting moment – the moment in which everything around you falls perfectly together visually and conceptually. It is a moment that is difficult to translate into words: a scene in which all objects and subjects form a captivating composition, and the lighting and colours all work together to achieve a given feeling. Most importantly, creating a photograph is about intention and having it mean something more than its pixels. A powerful photograph produces an image that penetrates through the vision of its viewers into the depths of their minds to linger and, over time, provoke certain thoughts and feelings.

You can say that the power of photography comes with slowing down time for all of this to happen. However, in today’s increasingly digital, visual, and fast-moving culture — especially where the technologies of photography and cellular devices have melded — the concrete definition of photography has become blurred.

One would say that cellular photography has changed the game and created many different usages for photographs other than simply aesthetics and artistic expression, which is also true. For one, we now use photographs as a medium of communication, and it is as disposable as ever. Take applications like Snapchat for example, where users can send photographs as communication and have it be deleted in a matter of seconds.

It has become as easy as ever to simply pull out a smartphone from your jean pockets and snap a photo of something you notice on the spot. But with this fast-moving mindset of photography, the products of our impulsive camera button-mashing are prone to turning out void of intention. In other words, photographs in the cellular age tend to become increasingly invaluable due to ease of production. More importantly, they are disposable at another click of a button. And when it is so easy to create and destroy photographs, the amount of care and intention that goes into each one is also diminished. We forget not only about the aesthetics of our photographs, but also the deeper meanings that they hold to its viewers as well as its creator.

Next time you are thinking about creating a photograph, challenge yourself to think deeper about what you are photographing, and its significance to other viewers that surpasses more than just “it looks pretty”. Photography is a powerful medium, and its capabilities do not stop at simple communication. It is a profound reflection of how we, as humans, view this world; it also holds the power to change it. Let that power be one that allows photography to be a medium that holds weight and meaning, and not simply a temporary flash of a couple pixels on a screen.

This article was published in Vol. 17, Issue 4 of Incite Magazine