Under a gray sky, we are all gathered around the coffin of a loved one in fellowship and in silence, while a few yards away, one family member discreetly snaps some shots. I see him, I take notice of his gesture, but I don’t pay much attention to it at the time, overcome as I am with the emotion of the moment. Besides, what will he actually do with those photos? Everyone is entitled to his or her memories.
Three days later, riding the metro on a Monday morning like any other, I mechanically take out my cell phone and log onto Facebook. These images appear at the top of my newsfeed. I see myself in the crowd, I discover the image of my own grief. It’s an image that is deeply unsettling and that brutally takes me back to the pain of that moment. Although these photographs were shared on a private page, I’ve been exposed to them without wanting to and without warning.
Does every single memory have a right to be portrayed in pictures? And more importantly: how to show them without offending people? Probably not by sharing them on Facebook like this. Seeing this private moment in photographic form has tainted my memory of it. This external point of view has gone against my desire to hold on to an immersive memory of that moment. I, the person so passionate about photography, would have preferred that there were no pictures of this event, or at least preferred not to see them.
This situation begs the question: are some time-spaces better for sharing photographs than others? This anecdote illustrates the fact that today, any image can appear to us at any given time. Are we always ready to be confronted with images? We, as in the new photo addicts… we, as in those who have this novel tendency to photograph everything and anything, any situation in life whatsoever, from the most beautiful to the most tragic.
Some memories are more powerful when shared with words.
By Coline Olsina
Cover : © Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash