A Snapshot of everything Photography: Memories, how it lies to you and the “Golden Hour”

View from the Window at Le Gras

The earliest surviving photo that was ever taken, a long exposure that took about 8 hours, resulting in shadows being cast on multiple different sides

What if you were able to stop time? Being able to freeze a moment, a perfect moment in time. Whether it be an Ed Sheeran concert, moments before doing a skydive, or even just moments before diving into a particularly creamy-looking new york cheesecake. Being able to, on a whim, relive any moment of your life in stunning realism?

Unless Dr Strange loaned you the time stone, photography is the closest we’ll be able to get.

From cherishing the minuscule moments to the most momentous of mementoes, photos help immortalise a memory in time, transforming it into something tangible. Photography is everywhere in modern life and it’s something amazing we too often take for granted.

Courtesy of Reinhart Julian @reinhartjulian from Unsplash

There are many uses of photography, from scientific recording, business, the arts, film, mass communication via social media, or just recreationally as a hobby.

While it might painfully point out how much of a buffoon you were, memories are cemented through novelty and repetitions that strengthen the neuron connections flaring up in your brain. Being able to at a whim conjure up a physical image to recall is great to ensure you don’t forget the good times.

You might not be able to trust your brain (which, especially with nostalgia, romanticises plenty of your past), but you can trust a photo to give you an objective window of how things actually were. Or can you? (Vsauce music begins playing*)

Courtesy of Andrew Ruiz @andrewruiz from Unsplash

That fine wine you had back on the beaches of Hawaii you remember? It’s actually just a beer you had with the boys while wasted and stumbling across the street at 2 am.

The Bias of Photography

Commercial photography is usually when people pay for images. But Art Photography is an entirely new ballpark. And it just might have much of the same bias our brains have.

Art photography is stylistic choices, choosing whether to omit or include specific details that aren’t necessarily there if taken raw. Choices made to tell a story, rather than capture a moment.

Courtesy of Krists Luhaers @kristsll from Unsplash

Whether it’s choice of angle, or manipulating the environment and even the subject itself, it’s to invoke certain feelings in viewers.

Some argue that these photos aren’t representing the full truth. The photographers choose the angle, lighting, even what stays and goes in the photograph. Elements that end up excluded are thrown to the curb and sometimes the end result is missing the proper context for viewers to make a fair and objective statement. But to many, that’s the point of a story.

Courtesy of Isabella Jusková @bellaskova from Unsplash

Did you know, even back when colour film was readily available, people continued to use black and white photography, which kept its reign and dominated for decades? It was due to it’s lower cost and having a more “classic” look to it.

Courtesy of Michael Longmire @f7photo from Unsplash

A vital role of photography was for scientific uses. Helping us make massive strides and advancements as humans using this newfound ability to record and revisit data.

Photos aren’t always honest

Courtesy of BBC

Here’s a fun little fact. Publishers “intentionally” let this photoshopped image of the Sad Keanu Reeves meme into Ukrainian school textbooks. Can you spot him? Would you have glanced over if we didn’t point it out? Photography has gotten easy to manipulate, especially with tools like photoshop, and one might think it could be unethical to “lie” in such ways.

“Tourist gaze” is a phenomenon that is a source of debate. It argues that by seeing things only through the lens of a camera, what they see is then positioned and defined only by that photo.

But on the flip side, arguments are also made for a sort of “Reverse gaze”, whereby locals who see these tourists taking photos could view them as shallow consumers of photography.

Both sides arguing that there is much more depth to life than just what is captured on the small canvas of a photograph, and said photograph and the action of photography only offers a glimpse and small window into much deeper and fleshed out narratives.

If you’re looking to get started on your photography journey, or even if you already have, here’s a little tidbit to get you started.

One great time to start snapping is the golden hour.

Golden hour is a colloquial term, an informal nonliterary term with no official definition. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pull the same weight as dawn, dusk and the 3 phases of twilight.

It’s a state of natural lighting common around sunrise and sunset. This warm sunlight is usually between 6 degrees below and 6 above the horizon. It begins with civil dawn in the morning and ends with the civil dusk receding to the evening sky. That’s why it’s called the golden hour, the low angle impact makes it appear as such.

And it looks great from the seat of an Airplane.

You can be a photographer too!

You can be considered an amateur photographer even without making any profits. Nowadays it’s all encapsulating and has a broad, forgiving entry barrier. All you need is to own a hand-held camera or a simple cell phone. Photography has become more widely accessible to everyone.

Courtesy of Eirik Solheim @eirikso from Unsplash

This type of photography is considered a hobbyist/passion type that goes without commercial benefits most of the time, and the quality of some is even comparable to many photography professionals.

Courtesy of sarandy westfall @sarandywestfall_photo from Unsplash

Photos gilded not with gold, but the intoxicatingly rich memories of the past.

Dalí Atomicus, 1948
Philippe Halsman was dedicated to capturing the essence of people he photographed. He got his wife and daughter to assist with this shot, throwing cats and water into the frame to get this perfect moment.

Final thoughts

Photography isn’t always what it seems. People take photos to capture a moment in time, and others change it before the shot or even after in order to tell a story.

Everyone can be a photographer, and with it, the ability to frame. But photos can never truly tell the whole tale. Seeing photos of heavy labour in a poor-looking household may invoke sympathy, but it doesn’t capture the lopsided grins and tight-knit community spirit.

In the end, there isn’t a better way to understand something than to experience it, in all it’s glory and grime, to widen the window. Going beyond the canvas of a photo, to experience it for yourself.

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