Time Machine in a Digital Photograph…

I came across a photograph just recently of a friend who had passed away. In the picture he was standing on the balcony of his apartment holding his SLR camera, thumbing through some photographs he’d taken. I was giving him a few pointers on how to use the camera, as far as photography lessons, he was somewhat of a natural already.

I take my SLR camera practically everywhere with me and I’ll use any excuse to shoot a portrait. Portraits are my favourite form of photographic expression, the moments I like to try to “capture” tend to be centered around people and what they are doing, feeling, thinking and looking like.

Looking at this photograph right now it made me think about pictures. Have you ever gone back through pictures of yourself and wondered, ‘what was I doing at that moment, what was i thinking about?’ As you start to think about that, a lot more pictures start to unfold in your mind as you unlock the memories stored in the brain. If I had to describe this to you, it would be as if the pictures spread out in all directions from the original.

Sometimes that picture turns into a reverie of thoughts and images, and sometimes it can feel as though you are re-living that moment in time and space. I guess that’s one reason why I love photography so much, why I look at so many photographs.

Sometimes, if you try really hard you can go back, like time traveling, I say like it because nothing changes in the end (there are all sorts of theories and ideas that can explain all that), either because you don’t want to or you cannot. But time traveling is fun! You can practice and go back to only happy times if you wanted. I think those are the easiest exercises to start with. You don’t ever have to visit a sad or difficult time if you don’t want to; though we often do when we’ve done something wrong or something happens we wish had not. Sometimes it is important to visit a time surrounding sad or unhappy emotions.

I travelled to a memory that I didn’t think I remembered at all. I went back to a time where I’d just missed the chance to see my friend. Weeks before he died, I walked by his workplace on my way to dinner and I looked in the window and saw him talking to his team. I remember thinking, how amazing it was that they got to work with him and how great and wonderful he looked. It didn’t dawn on me at all that I should even say hello, surely there’d be an opportunity to do that? When I really think about the actual moment, I didn’t even think of that much because I was preoccupied with what I was doing. It was enough to just see him looking happy and looking “good” as they say. The next time I would think of my friend was upon finding out he was dead. All of his friends and family left with only photographs and videos as a record that he even existed at all.

Whatever darkness possesses any of us, it is often something that no one sees, and whatever the reason for that, a big part of it, I think, is that the possessor of that darkness does not wish it to be seen. Thinking of that memory though, begs the question, is the darkness even there, does it even matter if it cannot be seen?

Now my memory took me to that place earlier in the story of the day; hours before I had even arrived there. I knew I should have been someplace different and in fact those events were taking place and yet here I was, standing outside the shop with the shiny glass front and the blazing metallic interior and there he was, walking out towards me. Inside me it felt as though it had been moments after I’d taken that photograph of him on his balcony years before, and it also seemed like I was from the future looking at that old picture of him. The collection of all my experiences was transformed to a brand new moment, a brand new time line.

“Hi Soso!” He saw me and gave me that big smile that was his hallmark greeting to his friends and loved ones.

I smiled back, this was all completely new, it felt like I could do anything I wanted to for a moment; “Hi Jojo! What news?”

“Oh nothing much, same old stuff but look at you! What are you doing all the way up here?”

“Ha, I don’t know, I have to do something later tonight at the movie theatre and so I thought I’d come up early.”

“Well, that’s great! I’m on my break, why don’t you come along, I mean if you have the time?”

I took in a deep breath and looked around at everything, wondering if he knew that this was all brand new. “I have all the time in the world for you.”

He seemed puzzled and gave me a coy sideways glance with a smirk. I knew why he did that; he was so observant about the way people would put things, the way people chose to construct their sentences or words. Meaning was his biggest fascination.

Then he said, “Well, I believe if anyone can turn 15 minutes into forever, its you.”

I wished he were right, but I didn’t try to correct his perception.

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