Fading memories & Photography

Urban Lights” at LACMA museum, Los Angeles (December 2014)

Most people (and I include myself in that bunch) like to think that once one dies, life memories and the memory of the defunct “us” will still persist for many, many centuries to come. But unless one’s path on this earth is marked by some sort of extraordinary achievement in science, politics or the arts, the reality is that the memories of us will rapidly fade away into oblivion. There is nothing tragic about it; in all fairness, it is almost a relief to know that one is not that important. And yet, this irrational desire of memory persistence has very deep roots. Call it ego, or whatever.

Years ago, a great friend of mine, a professional photographer, lost his father due to old age. In his father’s funeral, my friend photographer displayed a number of pictures of the departed at different moments of his life. He had chosen the pictures very carefully and tactfully, covering a range of years and important moments. Moreover, the photographs were of the highest visual quality -after all, my friend is a photographer.

The question came to my mind then, if we were to choose the photographs to be displayed at our own funeral, what would those pictures be? (sorry for the morbid question, but bear with me).

We live in a world inundated with images. Digital age has made it more affordable and easier than ever to record every single moment in our lives. A countless number of pictures are taken every second, many, many more than only ten years ago. Smart phones are easy to use and shoot images of amazing definition at almost no cost. If we were to choose and tell the story of our lives in images, which pictures would we pick? We have a sea of images at our disposal now, a huge number of images from which to choose (and we can and need to be choosy).

I offer this, at least: the images need to be of a decent visual quality and they need to “tell a story”. After all, there are more chances for a memory to stick and carry thru the years when it is told with an image and a story. People like visuals and people like stories.


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