A photo gives you the impression of a moment. A photo gives you everything in your field of vision, the background, the surroundings, make themselves heard as loudly as what you are focusing on.
With your iPhones you are documenting your presence in a certain place at a certain time. The very fact that you have that picture in your files, means you were there, whether you took it as a selfie or whether you asked a friend to take a picture of you and your surroundings. What is your relationship with your surroundings? Or perhaps there isn’t any, exept as a way of reminding yourself in future that you had been here, had seen that monument, and who you had been with.
We, like all creatures, are self-centered. Interested primarily in our own kind. We are always the starring actor, not the building or statue that acts as sort of an excuse – unless of course our profession requires it – no, it is the person who comes first.
Bring out a group photograph of years ago. What do we look for first? Why ourselves. Among the array of faces, we look for ours. And then someone we may know, perhaps a teacher, or a friend.
I wonder sometimes what those who stand before the Cathedral, who take three steps backward so they can get the whole facade in on their photo, see when they look a month or more from now. Hopefully they will also experience the moment when they took that picture, whether the sky was blue or clouds were slowly building up, whether there was a breeze or whether it was already hot so they would seek the shade, and who their travel companions were.
Will they remember the tour group blocking the street, speaking in some unknown language, with the guide pointing to the facade, her finger raised like the hand of God, probably indicating the small head of Christ in the rose window?
In a photo, it is the now that matters most, a testimonial of a specific moment in your life. If it is a successful photo, you can pride yourself on having captured that decisive moment.