What we see in a photo?
A friend, photographer Bill Beard, has been taking photos of musicians in the Toronto Jazz scene for several years now. This is a labor of love, but a labor nonetheless. He spends hours taking photos and then even more hours reviewing, editing, organizing, and distributing the photos. Why does someone spend so much time on what can be described as a slice of time?
Each photo is a moment, a single frame of life. What happens in that moment reflects something beyond the moment, revealing a truth that is often beyond words. I am not talking about posed photos; although, they too are a “slice in time.” I am thinking about those moments when we do not know a camera is there, where the image is snapped and we are oblivious.
There have been a great many changes in my life. My relationship to music has deepened, but my relationship to the music “scene” has faded. The role the music scene plays is different than I had once imagined it to be. For me now there is feeling of nostalgia, a feeling that there was something rather than there is something. When I was younger it was about how things would fit together and that is still the case, however now this ontological search includes accepting how they fall apart. In a beautiful way it is about accepting the lack of control and embracing the total exchange of feelings and emotions, of thoughts and beliefs within and of the emptiness of life, as such, life become even more precious not less so. We are smaller, not bigger, we are a frame in time and time itself is the camera, a construct.
When I saw the photo Bill took I felt something deeply, it resonated with me; without thinking in words I was, in that moment—that slice of time (or perhaps I never left?) It was me in a way that was true, a way that resonated something beyond the events of that gig, the events of that night; something that reflected me as a solitary figure, as a conscious being, as a person who was once “one thing” and is now “another.” (Is that even possible?)
Seeing the photo—seeing all of this from the “outside” was a surprise. I often wonder: how am I seen? In part this leads to questions I will not write about now but will continue to think about: how do I see myself?
A photo can show us what I’ll call The Profound Moment, not as a singular entity, but as something that carries us, speaks to us, and even asks of us things that cannot be heard. These are the slices of time we experience as observers. There is nothing to hold, to “thing” to hold. Just the beautiful exchange.