Hidden Meanings Yet To Be Found

Susan Sontag states, “Photography implies […] we know about the world if we accept it as the camera records it” (23). When looking at old photos of my parents in their twenties, it’s difficult to not accept the world as the camera records it. After all, I had not been born yet. I have no idea what their world looked like then, so I sift through old photographs, hoping to grasp any information about what they were like, during the days of their youth. I want proof in the form of color positives, moments frozen, memories that aren’t tainted by forgetfulness. It’s easy to see that my mom wore a butter yellow ensemble while my dad rocked acid-washed jeans. The proof is there; however, as Sontag mentions, “the camera’s rendering of reality must always hide more than it discloses” (23). Although I know that my parents sat on a bench on a sunny day, wearing the aforementioned clothing, I am missing the details that I seek. Where were they? Were they married? Who took this photo? The last question irks me the most as I’m usually the photographer in my family. In recent family albums, I know the story behind each image, because I am the one capturing the image. But I was not there that day. The longer I stare at the image, the more I realize how little I know about these parents of mine who are frozen in time. The photograph alone cannot explain, only my parents can. Without their narration, I can only guess about this afternoon on which my parents look so happy. There is only an image where I seek a story; I still yearn to understand.

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