Light Writing


Jacob and Lucy were looking at photographs together; she was explaining what she called art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction. They examined print after print, and Lucy spoke of practised seeing, methodical execution, and all the positive and negative relations that combine to conjure a beloved face. Her images came in many colours - browns, purples, sepias, olive - achieved by altering the developing silver with toning solutions of other metals - gold, iron, copper, selenium. Lucy was proud of her art: she saw before her an immanent opulence, recorded as her own metaphysics. These images would endure. These would gloriously outlive her.

-Gail Jones, Sixty Lights, p. 239.

I've been thinking about photographs and memory. This is not a particularly new or original thought, but nevertheless, a preoccupying one. What interests me, is the way that we become attached to certain photographs that are not of beloved faces, but of people we have never met. Why do we like certain images, and why do such images retain a presence in personal and cultural memories?

One of my favourite photographs is the one above of Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins. I don't know why this photo has stuck in my memory. I think it might have something to do with the slight details of their bodies: the small veins of her arched fingers near her hips, the way that one of his fingers moves in an opposite direction with such precision. It seemed to suggest something the moment I first saw it, and now I have forgotten what this suggestion was, but the photograph has remained in my memory.

So perhaps this is why we love certain photographs: because they suggest the secret life of our imperfect and fragile memory, and they outlive it. Photographs of beloved faces fit too neatly with memories, it's the more random memories formed by strangers that I'm finding particularly absorbing at the moment.

So in the spirit of my absorption, I'm curious to find out what other photographs people find appealing, or secretly like. Please do share, do you have a favourite photo?