Why do we take photos? What is the purpose? To answer these questions, we have to first define what a photo is. Not just on a physical image-printed-on-paper definition, but a deeper, more meaningful definition.
A photograph is a connection to a memory-a moment in time that will never occur in the same way again. Think about that for a minute. One single moment, that will NEVER occur again. Yet, by simply freezing that moment with the click of a shutter, it is now preserved for all time.
Ok, now that we know what a photo is, we can better answer why we take them. The answers are different for everyone, but at the root of it all, we take pictures to preserve memories. Photos allow us to put in a frame, book, or box, what might otherwise be forgotten. Even as amazing as the human brain is, it cannot possibly remember all the fantastic moments that occur over the course of one’s life. Enter photography, and voila, permanently preserved memories that can be returned to at any time!
Think of your photos as a rolodex for all of those moments in your like that you want to come back to. Maybe it’s your wedding day, the birth of a child, perhaps even your parent’s final moments. All of these occasions (among a multitude of others) stir different emotions and imprint different memories within us. Freezing those moments with a photograph allows us to return to those emotions at a later date.
Walk with me for a moment down memory lane. I’m going back to that day, nearly 16 years ago, when I said “I do” to my best friend and we became husband and wife. I clearly remember that day and most of the crazy shenanigans that occurred. However, every single time I look at my wedding album, I am taken back to a specific moment or emotion from that day. The photos of my grandfather walking me down the aisle, the photo of my husband looking like a deer in the headlights, even the photo of the lone beer bottle on the shelf behind us (there’s a story there…) all bring back to the surface the wonderful experience of that day!
Without our photos to preserve those moments, some of those details would eventually fade. That is the power of photography. The power to reignite certain memories and bring those moments back to life. The power to evoke emotion when viewed and bring a smile to one’s face or a tear to one’s eye. As a photographer, it is my job, my duty to harness the power of those moments.
That is the purpose of pictures.