Do photographs still have value in the age of disposable images?

You're probably wearing a camera right now. So is the person next to you. You may have already shot a bunch of photos today, perhaps even distributed them for the world to see. But who has the time to take this very seriously? With everyone shooting and sending all day long, what kind of demand could there possibly be with so much supply?

They're just photographs, after all.

150 years ago, a photograph would have been nearly uncanny super-science, as hard to imagine as cars that self drive themselves. (Oh, wait: even that's not really a big deal anymore http://bit.ly/IHY1VT .)

All things that once looked extraordinary become ordinary in very little time. Remember your first email? Your first cell phone? Your first online video chat?

Don't be confused. This is not a question about the value of technological advancement. This is about the ability to be moved emotionally.

Photography still matters as much as any other ubiquitous act of creation these days. Did you hear any music today? Any at all? If you say "no", remember that the commercial jingles you heard at the red light from the car next to you counts. Music is so ordinary these days as to be completely overlooked. So is electricity. So is photography.

So what?

Photography stops time. Photography focuses the mind on a singular moment.  While fundamentally visual, photography also evokes overtones of memory, like intangible notes of wine evoking smoke or chocolate on the palate. It's magical, and not because of the astounding technical advancement employed to capture and preserve an image. Photography is magical because it resists our shared, inevitable plunge into the future. Photography suspends…everything.

We see photography everywhere these days; it's so common as to be invisible, ignorable. Perhaps this is as it should be. You've had breakfast thousands of time before, too. Not every breakfast is gourmet, memorable, or extraordinary. But sometimes…sometimes…you have something one morning that's not like other mornings. Perhaps it's the fresh squeezed orange juice, or the heavy, smooth glass it's in catching the light from the sunlit window. Perhaps it's the company you're with that morning, or the unusually rich vanilla scent that reaches you before even so much as a warm plate.

Photography is the act of remembering rigorously. It's an act of declaration against the finite.  Other senses only exist in motion; there's no continuity of sound the moment vibrations pass your ear, no continuity of scent after aromatic molecules dissipate. But with a photograph, you can linger. You can ponder. You can remember. Most of all, you can wonder.

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