Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I found a photo in my desk at work. Never noticed it before. It's a man and a woman who I don't know, seated at a table I've never sat at. Strangers, in other words. They're smiling. Probably at a party. They are white and the people behind them are brown. Everybody looks like they're having a good time; everybody looks happy.

It made me feel lonely -- for me, for them, for the person who took the photo. Don't know why, really. There's something about a photo that's been abandoned that has a somewhat tragic feel to it. A photo should be in a photobook, or someone's wallet, or pinned on a fridge, next to the grocery list and little Becky's slightly skewed portrait of Granny. Not lying forgotten in a grey desk.

And who are the people in the photo? Are they married? Still together? Is one of them dead, while the other is alive, grieving? They've gone on and lived a life but this portrait of them, this piece of them, lay in a drawer in my desk, covered in dust. They've moved on, but this memory, this tactile projection, has remained static. Glimpsed only belatedly, by me, a stranger.

Whenever I look at old photos I've taken, I always notice the strangers, the people passing behind the people I've photographed. Where are all those strangers right now, those accidental inserts? Are they dead or alive? Content or miserable? Fed up with life or thrilled with the days they have left? And they don't know that they're in a photo of mine; nobody told them.

And how many photos am I in that I don't know about? Has somebody snapped a picture of me, unknowingly, aiming for their friend? Maybe somewhere in Canada, or Japan, or even Cambodia, there's a part of me -- a finger, a left foot, the back of my head -- that exists only in the corner of a stranger's photo.

Another me, incidental but still there, nonetheless.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Isn't that powerful? You could be in hundreds of places around the world and not even know it. You could be in that picture on the mantle of a couple on their honeymoon. As you sit on the mantle their blessing their first born child or a host of other ocassions.

It's beautiful.