The Essence of an Image

Upon browsing my personal pictures, I came across this image of lights.  Quite frankly I was immediately taken aback trying to remember where and when this picture had been taken.  Due to the quality of the photograph and the lack of context around it, this image continued to stimulate my mind into pondering why such an image had once been captured.  Barthes comments that “And yet, because it was a photograph I could not deny that I had been there (even if I did not know where)” (Barthes 85).  For me, I oftentimes find myself questioning where, when, and why I have taken certain pictures. In fact every image from family vacations throughout Europe seem to blend into one messy pile. Without captions or organized albums, I find myself confusing every cathedral or bridge or monument and questioning to which city each belonged.

This is what brought about confusion with this image.  However, after viewing the images taken before and after, I realized had been taken while up in the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  Upon this realization, the image showed so much more. Now I can flash back to that moment of excitement and adrenaline that I vividly remember having as I stood up in one of the world’s most famous landmarks attempting to document the entire city around me. As Barthes states, “the Photograph’s essence is to ratify what it represents” (Barthes 85).  The shaking of the camera, shown by what appears to be the vertical lines of lights where the camera had been moved, holds in it all of the nervous and excited energy that I held with me that night.  I remember now being frustrated by my unsteady hand as I hoped to capture a clear image of Paris at night. However, now upon reviewing the image, my own faults are making this once seen as unclear or waste of an image hold more of the “essence” of the actual experience that I had.


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