Photographing Etta

Etta, 8 weeks

I recently adopted a kitten and named her Etta. I have had her for a little over a week, and since then my need to photograph her has been constant — borderline obsessive. I want to immortalize some sense of how she acts at her present age, but the act of taking her photograph actually inhibits me from interacting with her naturally. I was reminded of a moment in Sontag I was struck by, in which she points out how photographing an event inherently alters the event. “A photograph is not just the result of an encounter between an event and a photographer; picture-taking is an event in itself, and one with ever more peremptory rights — to interfere with, to invade, or to ignore whatever is going on.” (Sontag 11). I try to suppress the need to photograph her, and it seems to go against my desire to be her feline parent. In my love for her, I feel photographing her is an obligation — as though to show love I must dote on her in this way, by immortalizing her in images (as a filmmaker, many of them are moving images). This thought reminded me of the Calvino, for a multitude of reasons, but what resonated with me was the moment when he described parents photographing their children “The photograph album remains the only place where all these fleeting perfections are saved”. At the rate I’m moving, I will have a bounty of fleeting perfections, nostalgia driven souvenirs.


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