Ghost of Sunday Past

As points are to a line, life is a procession of fleeting moments in time. When these moments are captured in photography, Barthes calls this, “That-has-been” and states that “what founds the nature of photography is the pose” (78). Photography brings recognition to these flashing moments in time when, for a moment, life is still. I took this picture on a Sunday afternoon, with my unknowing subjects completely oblivous to the fact that their eating lunch was photogenic gold. I remember there being a breeze that day, but in the photo, every motion “posed”.

What is interesting to me about this photo in relation to Barthes is that it was taken with a camera phone. The camera phone is the ultimate advocate of the “That-has-been” noeme in phtography. It is there to ensure that, as long as you have your phone, you will never have to miss one of these fleeting moments. The ease that a camera in a phone creates in taking a photograph increases the importance of taking photographs: If you miss one of these moments and had the means necessary to capture it, you have foolishly lost it forever.

If I showed my friends the picture, they probably would not remember the event. Barthes experienced the same thing on page 85, when shown by a photographer a picture of himself that he did not remember. But the truth of the photo is undeniable: That-has-been, and they were there. Barthes also discusses how a photograph kills the moment. Photos like these, of priceless moments, invoke feelings of nostalgia because it can never happen again. This photograph says to me: “this moment was once alive”. Looking at the picture only brings ghosts of that day’s breeze and whimsical remembrances of a moment past.


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