Special moments

Two photographers doing what we love. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The history of photography was, until the digital age, entirely the history of special moments. Early photography was both expensive and extremely time consuming. Cameras — large, often bespoke contraptions that worked by exposing chemical-coated plates to light over relatively long periods of time — were the preserve of a few wealthy enthusiasts.

Even after new technologies made cameras accessible to the mass market (thanks Kodak), the cost of buying and developing film meant that many (most) people still saved photography for recording the events and moments of most importance to them. Five selfies with that cheeseburger — no way!

Now that most phones have (perfectly decent) digital cameras and are internet-connected, the way we think about — and use — photography has utterly changed. One of the most intelligent writers about photography (in my opinion) was the late John Berger. Writing in 1972, he said:

Photographs bear witness to a human choice being exercised in a given situation. A photograph is a result of the photographer’s decision that it is worth recording that this particular event or this particular object has been seen. If everything that existed were continually being photographed, every photograph would become meaningless.

John Berger

Recording the experience of art; a project I consider worthwhile. Image: Su Leslie

With the ubiquity of photography in our lives, how do we choose special moments? Not just those we capture — but those we share with the increasingly wide audience available through social media. How different bloggers respond to that question, posed in this week’s Lens Artists Photo Challenge, is fascinating in itself.

My lens for this project is creativity. My special moments are those in which creative activities are being practiced, or their products enjoyed.

Exploring creativity with a compassionate and talented teacher. Image: Su Leslie

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.

Sophia Loren

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Exploring the boundaries of art. Image: Su Leslie

” … I feel that what we should get from art is a sense of wonder, of something beyond ourselves, that celebrates our ‘being’ here.” — Trevor Bell. Images: Su Leslie

Before and after. Recording process matters. Images: Su Leslie

Lens Artists Photo Challenge | Special Moments

What served in the place of the photograph, before the camera’s invention? The expected answer is the engraving, the drawing, the painting. The more revealing answer might be: memory.

John Berger

53 thoughts on “Special moments

  1. A lovely, thoughtful piece. One thing though about the ubiquity of digital photography is that we have all become so much better at it. I’ve been going through ‘snapshots’ on the old Box Brownie of special moments when the children were small. Goodness, they’re dreadful. Not quite headless, but getting on that way, and with little sense of a story being told. So if we could persuade ourselves to junk 9/10 of what we currently take whenever we have our phones to hand, we might have quite a show-stopping collection of Special Moments. As you have.

    Liked by 6 people

    • That is a really good point Margaret. My parents have been giving me their old photos (I’ve become the de facto family archivist). My dad was a hobby photographer, so his shots are pretty good, but my mother … well not so much. And to be honest, without my mother-in-law’s photographs, I’d have very little record of my son’s early years.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember those days of sending film out to be developed and waiting and waiting until the photos were returned with negatives. Out of a roll of 24, maybe 12 would be worth keeping (though I kept them all anyway). Sometimes an important photo—of a friend I might not ever see again or a place I loved—would come back over or under exposed or out of focus. But alas, it was too late to take another.

    Now we do take it for granted that we can take as many photos as we want and see them immediately. When we go somewhere, I take so many photos of the same thing, hoping that one of them will be a decent photo. Then I can edit the photo—add contrast, reduce overexposure, adjust color, and crop out unncessary elements. . And all on a little box that is barely 2 inches wife by 4 inches long.

    Liked by 8 people

    • I remember those days too Amy. I have no photos of my first graduation because my mum’s camera wasn’t working properly.

      Digital technologies have definitely made it easier to capture and store our memories. But I guess it poses a whole new set of issues for family historians.


      • I don’t even want to talk about our wedding photographs. So sad.

        I hope that the benefits of digital tagging will outweigh whatever new issues digital photography creates for family historians.

        Liked by 2 people

        • That is sad ☹️
          My brother somehow managed to get custody of my parents’ wedding photo album and lost it 😡😡
          Ironically, his wedding photos were rubbish. Part of me thinks “karma”, but in reality I’m sad that two important family events have no photographic record.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting and thoughtful post, and great photos as always…I enjoyed reading Berger’s thoughts on photography but I have a bone to pick with Sophia….why is age something that needs to be defeated? Might as well defeat breathing, or adolescence…it’s just a part of being alive.


    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks Deb.
      I guess she is a product of her time, and of an industry that abandons women as soon as we become interesting.
      I know I’ve improved with age; certainly in the areas that count like confidence and compassion and empathy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating that you have these records of artists, Su. For me photography is about images that delight me and an aid to memory. I can be ruthless in deleting older stuff… but not family. Time with them is mostly special moments, but I’m not always willing to share. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Totally agree with you Su. I’m also deeply worried about the whole profession in itself. We now have brilliant and spectacular drones’ photos, we can digitally change and enhance every single shot, we have layers and God knows what (all of which I have no idea), so HOW can we still give a photographer a job? I’m not a technician, I take pictures mostly with my soul and imagination, the clicking on the shutter is just a reminder of what my mind has registered. THEN I tell the story to what was the foundation of my pic…. I have not used my camera for years as my eyesight is very bad and I buy my smartphone with regards to the quality of its integrated camera only and not for anything else. The phone comes with me everywhere, is a lightweight and it suits me fine – my cameras always were too heavy and I had cramps in arms and hands because of the carrying around.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thought provoking considerations, Su: the precious vs access dichotomy is one which seems to come up a lot; one on which I continue to ponder.

    “Recording the experience of art” is a new perspective – not just the art itself, but the invaluable response & interactive that occurs in its space (and beyond). That is so much bigger a consideration .

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Pingback: enjoying the new garden – Touring My Backyard

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