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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Baring Teeth

Why do we have pictures?

I mean, I know WHY we have pictures: to have a physical image to jog a memory or feeling.

But what I don’t understand is why we keep these pictures or why they highlight such pleasant memories. I mean, they are full of artificial smiles and hugs that couldn’t be choreographed better if it were Hollywood. And so why do such mannequin-like models in these images make us feel good inside, when the real life events are so staged?!

Sure some pictures are taken as a spur-of-the-moment thing, and are often the best, as they manage to capture the innocence and honesty of that moment, but these are often discarded or forgotten about as they ‘make my bum look big’ or its an ‘unflattering picture’.

People forget about these ‘real’ moments, in favour for the fake ones.

The ones where everyone crowds around and crams into shot, and we all say the same conformist word “cheese!”. Grinning like idiots.

How many families or friends do you know that crowd around and smile ridiculously when there isn’t a camera there?!

None! Thats how many!

Its ridiculous! Those artificial smiles that are more like baring teeth to your opponent before a battle  mask so much background feeling and emotion that cannot be captured on camera are lost forever.

The young boy smiling at the camera with his family. Innocence ad happiness? Is this the same boy who has just spent the last 5 hours arguing over personal space and being yelled at by everyone else? Is this the same boy who has ran away so many times just to be forgotten and overlooked each time?! Striving for attention? Is he just an innocent and happy boy?!

Or what about that picture of a child smiling from ear to ear in a brand new shirt they got for Christmas. Does the camera hide the disdain they feel towards their parents for not only buying them such an ugly gift, but for then capturing this ‘beautiful moment’ forever?! Does it show the discomfort they feel from the scratchy material or the shirt that is 2 sizes too small?! The ugly colour and the sin towards fashion are long forgotten in that very smile that shows appreciation for a gift that has been bought. No, does this image show this level of depth?!

Or what about that picture of a boy and his date, at a valentines meal. Sure, smiles all around, teeth as white as the rose is red. But is there more to this image? Does it show how the boy does not actually like this girl and how he longs for his love to have accepted his invite. Does it show how he only asked out this girl because she liked him?! Does it show his fear to be alone and to have no one love him?! Does it show how she in turn hit him and abused him? Her smile masks her violence and his shame. A shame that can only be redeemed with time and a forgiving and forgetful camera...
And then there is the picture of two sisters kneeling triumphantly next to their monument us sand castle they have spent the day building. Mouths contorted into real smiles showing how their hard work and effort has paid off and in those fleeting moments know true happiness: to have made something regardless of longevity and senselessness. But does that image show the little boy in the corner long forgotten by all in his attempt to build a castle? To be accepted and to try to join in with his sisters? Does it show the tears he sheds over being overlooked again and again, time and time over, his castle caving in next to the tremendous castle of his family. Does this picture, like so many others show the truth behind the situation? The situation of a lonely boy who longs to fit in and be appreciated. To love and be loved in return.


Pools of water, laying on the ground,
As it rains down, without a sound.
A waters reflection, staring back at me,
Who is this guy, and what does he see?
A picture taken yesterday,
Starts to blur and fade away.
And like the sunset, all things must end,
When golden colours start to blend.

No. Do images show the truth of a situation? Or are those ‘smiles’ just baring teeth to the enemy. To the camera. To you?


Wayne said...

Actually with the digital cameras these days a person can take a great many spur-of-the moment pics and delete the phony smile ones. In the film cameras you had to pay for all the pics good and bad ones. My parents were not into cameras and there are not too many pics of me as a kid or teenager; I wish I could see some now as the young face I once knew fades from my mind.
-I guess we are taken for granted too much in this life but I bet that your family loves and appreciates you far more than you know. It takes some effort to find the joy and happiness of life and keep things on an even keel. But not all smiles are phony Jack, enjoy happiness when you get it and anticipate when you get it again. In the meantime connect with friends and get into some activities; dwelling on yourself too much becomes negative. Life is indeed unfair but how you deal with that is what counts. You did find an appropriate vid; sort of like Disney's family channel compared to the real world lol. Make the best of it and always seek to improve yourself. bfn - Wayne :) (that emoticon is not phony!)

Micky said...

You're so right in that it's what (or who) is not in the picture which often tells the real story.

"I fell out with him - so I airbrushed him out."

The spontaneous pics are pretty much always the best ones most of us take. But I do admire some of those posed pictures which certain photographers (often the professional ones) do so well.

It is that sort of composed and careful, beautiful photograph which I think can sometimes compare so well with the efforts of any non-photographic artist.

Good blog post though, eh?

Jack xx said...

That is very true Wayne, but the fact remains that you will see far more ‘smiling’ photos in an album or on display than you will random ones. But perhaps things are beginning to change and people will show the real ‘self’. As for looking back at a younger you, sure it is fun and interesting, but I’m often left wondering if that really is me or not, because I don’t remember looking that way. Its like in some way I feel like I have always looked as I do now, despite knowing its not true. Baby, child and teenager pictures are overrated lol.
I know not all smiles are phony but you’d be surprised how many there actually are in your daily life.

Thanks for agreeing Micky, and your right in that some staged photos are the best, but they still don’t reflect the situation. But they can make for nice pictures :)

And thank you for the compliment :) I hope to write in this style more often lol xx

Jason Shaw said...

What a lovely thoughtful post, very true indeed, a photo can only show one level of a situation, the surface, it's the memories that these photos evoke that tell the true story.

Also, those that see the photo and perhaps those that are also in the photo may well have a different memory, a different story to tell, one of joy, of happiness, of longing and love. Yes a picture may tell a thousand word story, but to each that story is different.

I so enjoyed this post, so thoughtful and very well written.

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