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Photography and beating the clock

Time is a one-way street, once something happens it happens and can’t be repeated or redone. Everything that happens is permanent until it’s forgotten with no way to go back.

But what if there was a way you could capture time? Look back on a moment exactly as it was? Because there is and a lot of people don’t really think about it; Photography.

Photography allows you to take moments in time and keep them in place. A photograph is a way of seeing the past, looking at a moment of stopped time and being able to re-live it and re-see it exactly as it was. It isn’t quite the sci-fi, Tardis time machine people dream of but it is a way of beating the one-way track of time and a way of looking into the past.

It does feel like in the modern day we almost take photographs for granted, with the number of cameras in everyone’s phones nobody really thinks about what it means to take a photograph. We snap selfie after selfie, take pictures of every meal, and endlessly photograph everything we see. We capture hundreds of moments of ourselves, our dogs and cats, our lunch, our coffees, and we share them for everyone to see. Nobody stops to think about how every photo they take is capturing and digitalising moments in time. How special photographs really are is something that has been lost in the vast number of photographs most of us are exposed to or take daily.

Photography is the most accessible way of seeing things as they were. It also leaves less room for inaccuracy and error, where in other art mediums you can capture a moment with a degree of inaccuracy when you take a photograph you capture something that is there as it is, you capture something that is happening, you capture a fact a moment that happened. You see what was there, what the camera was pointing at, and you see exactly what the person looking through the viewfinder saw. You don’t just see a moment in the past, you see a moment exactly as someone else saw it.

Not to say that photography is the only medium of art that captures a moment, there are millions of drawings and paintings of people, events, and places all over the world that capture different moments in time. The difference is untampered and unedited photographs show details and accuracy in a way that a drawing or painting cannot show. Photographs are facts, unless edited or changed, the things seen in a photograph happened, while other arts are always interpretations of something a photo is accurate. A photo shows what, where, and who with no errors or mistakes. What the photograph shows is what the camera sees, it captures everything as it all was in the moment that the photo was taken.

A photo can even catch longer moments. Cameras with long shutter speeds can take a photo that lasts from seconds to days. You could capture a lifetime in a single photograph given the right conditions and lighting. Alternatively, you could use photography’s distant cousin, videography which allows you to capture long moments of time in a replay-able way. In fact, a video can be seen as a step up over photography as videos can contain audio and last longer periods of time. A video you can see, feel, and hear. Working in the same way as a photograph, capturing a moment, trapping it and putting it on a viewable loop.

A photo cannot stop time, and a video is not a magic open door into physically returning to the past, but it can bring you back temporarily. You can re-see the things seen on a day, you can remember the things you felt just by looking at a picture of the moment. It might not be time travel, but its close.


Interested in Photography? A Photographer yourself? D31 Art Gallery's Online Photography Exhibition is now open for applications! Click on the button below to be redirected to the Exhibition application page.

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