Day 76: Candid Reality

Jan was a photographer, but she hated photographers. Actually, she wasn’t a photographer; she was an enthusiast. A picture-taker. But she hardly regarded all those selfie-stick Instagrammers to be photographers either.

She hated taking photos. She hated the culture of cameras. The disruption. When a camera is present, nobody acts how they usually would. They either pose, get out of the shot, wait patiently for the picture to be taken, or generally try to make themselves appear flattering. It’s a world of posing, of phoniness in photos. Pictures of forced smiles and untouched plates of food and parallel feet standing in pretty places. Of half-open, wholly-unread books with pages curled into hearts.

Fake. All fake.

So Jan only took photos of real moments. At least once a day she would take photos, often from far away, of people laughing, drunks puking in the street, dogs fucking, couples legitimately enjoying a meal already in motion. She took them from far away, or from crowds, or just stealthily, because the camera was a LOUD thing, a naked thing, and she had to keep it hidden for fear of it corrupting real moments.

Every day she did this, for 365 days as a yearlong challenge. She never looked over her shots, until the 366th day.

The pictures were ugly. Ugly and true. They weren’t filtered, weren’t sculpted. They were impressions of reality. In reality, lighting isn’t always perfect–it could often be tricky and playful and tough to tame, and untamed light, to Jan, was better than sanitized tame light. And the people, animals, machines, art–all captured without masks, without the vulnerabilities and defenses required when a camera is near. Just the regular vulnerabilities and defenses required to live life.



Today’s three random prompt categories were, “Photo op,” “Trick of the light,” and, “A 365-day challenge.”

I always feel like a goddamned doofus pulling out a camera. And seeing people take pictures annoys me. The thought of trying to collect your own life. But, of course, I enjoy nice photography. I even wanted to be a photographer once upon a time. To me, the aesthetic of life is amazing. I don’t need a camera to love it. Maybe I’m just selfish–I don’t want to share my world. That could be a good argument for taking up photography, I suppose. To let people into my eyes, a blink at a time.

– H.

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