I went to a discussion by Award Winning National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths today. Even though I have loved taking photographs ever since I touched a camera for the first time and I have loved watching other people’s works…something which I never thought of before struck me while Griffiths was showing her photographs to us.
Beautiful as they were, each picture had a story to tell. It seemed like every pixel on the screen was itching to jump out and start telling us the mystery behind the photo. Even though Griffiths would explain what happened before and after every photograph that she took, I felt there was hardly any need to do so.
Every picture exuded an energy. After watching each picture on the slideshow, glimpses of life stories would come up in my mind. I would think of the many stories that were possible behind every face, every snapshot of a horse, the clouds, the American prairies, that picture of a man with a gun standing with a rabbi.
There were some pictures that aroused me….to do something for the earth, for the people on this planet. There were pictures of women in a line for water; there were picture of poor, but happy children going to school. There were pictures that made me think of the futility of my life on this planet and how there could be so much more that I could be doing to help others. That happened especially when Griffiths started telling us about her organisation ‘Ripple Effect Images’ which uses photographs as a medium to propagate awareness.
A picture thus, can stir emotions, memories, cultures, the motivation to do something worthwhile in life.
Then, there are pictures that make you want to jump from your seat in excitement. When you see a beautiful photograph of the sea and feel like diving into the picture itself…as if that alone will give you the sensation of swimming in the deep blue waters. When you see a picture of the land taken from a height or from a helicopter, you feel like you are flying. That lump in your throat when you see a picture of a crying baby and you feel the urge to move forward to wipe his tears and stop him from crying.
Pictures have a power that even the strongest words don’t. That still image of a man walking alone in a desert can bring so many thoughts to the mind. Is he lonely? Is he going for work? Is he going home? Is he about to meet a lover? Is he on an adventure? So many questions, each unanswered. Yet, complete in itself.
That’s the power of a photograph.
At this point, I am reminded of a song by Nickelback called ‘Photograph’. It tells you more about the magic of a photograph.