Capturing Time – A Visual Interpretation
Thanks to RENT and math, we know that there are five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes in a year. Thanks to Einstein, we also know that time is relative. We measure time, talk about time or lack thereof, but how do we visually represent the concept of time or the passing of time? How do we approach or question, visually, the idea that “time heals all wounds.” And, while at it, how do we photograph the wounds–sadness, depression, hopelessness, emptiness–that time is supposed to heal?
Some say that, as photographers, we can stop time, if only for a moment, we can immortalize our subject the moment we make an image. For the purpose of this post, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about how we can, visually, show time or the passing of time or the effects it has on our lives.
But first things first. Regardless of the abstract subject you photograph, try this:
- Think in terms of universal symbols that can be recognized and interpreted as a certain feeling, concept, etc.
- Decide between color or black-and-white to best capture the particular subject, be that feeling, emotion or concept
- Choose the best subject for what you want to capture, visually
- Choose the best title (and caption) for your image
The above might offer a starting point for your project.
To add to that, here are a few ideas:
Photographing the concept of time or the passing of time:
I used a Lensbaby Velvet to capture a few images while on a stroll on the waterfront. Here’s a picture of the sun dial, facing the Verrazano Bridge and beyond. Using the Lensbaby Velvet gives this image an ethereal feel. Black-and-white, I hope, it enhances the concept of time–that is, time’s infinite nature. After all, we are the ones measuring time, in order to make it part of our life, or rather give ourselves that illusion. Truth is, it’s the other way around. Our lives represent nothing more but split moments in time.We don’t control time. We can’t make it pause or turn back, for that matter.
Inspired by Freddy Mercury’s song (of course!), I called the image “Time Waits for Nobody.”
Photographing pain, loss and remembrance, and time (the passing of time) as healer:
I’ve always been drawn to photographing tombstones and cemeteries. Maybe that’s the vampire in me, lol! In their own way, cemeteries also mark the passing of time, dividing the past from the present. They don’t only mark the absence of life, but also are remind us of the life that is no more.
Here’s a gravestone from an old cemetery located right across the street from the new Oculus train station in Lower Manhattan. Notice the tombstone. It’s cracked and ready to collapse, as if the passing of time doesn’t only bring life, but also the symbol of death, to its death.
Remembrance or perhaps a reference to a moment of reflection can be captured by photographing the simple custom of lighting a candle. In some countries there is a local custom–that is, people visit three monasteries and light, at each monastery, two candles–one candle for loved ones who’re still alive, and one for those who’re dead. Photography is usually not allowed in these places, but I did snap a few quick shots, such as the image posted below, a #tbt.
Our lives can be candles in the wind, as Elton John’s song suggest. Our lifetime can also be metaphorically measured in the time it takes a candle to burn out. That begs the question: is that enough time for us to heal? What happens when time runs out, interrupting the healing process?
The concept of time, of the passing of time, can be overwhelming, especially if experienced as it unfolds outside our planet:
These are only a few examples. Many more to talk about in the upcoming posts. Until then!
As always, thanks for stopping by!