Happy as they Seem

As sketchy as I looked taking pictures of random students as they went about their days, I cannot bear to publish them.  First of all, they are not good pictures and are simply not a representation of good photography, and secondly, none of the pictures would actually say what I want them to, to any other viewer.

By acknowledging that none of the photographs could depict what I wanted to an audience, I realized none of the pictures could because I was trying to, somehow, capture how I felt by photographing other people.  As I took pictures of people walking off to class, or into the Munchie Mart, or sitting eating breakfast, my camera captured exactly what I saw everyday: people who look totally content and busy, people who are just living their lives and as far as I can tell, look happy.  But that’s not actually what I wanted the picture I wanted.  What I wanted to reveal is how I feel when I see so many people (who I may or may not know) looking happy, as far as I can see.

One on the main struggles in the novel is the narrator dealing with confusion about her Levantine origins, I cannot exactly relate to what that feels like to not know how your group of people fits into the world.  However I can empathize with the excerpt from the story, “A Childhood in Egypt” by Jacqueline Kahanoff, when she discussing not knowing her place around her peers.  She says, “I could not share my feelings and thoughts with anyone, not even the other children, because I had no way of knowing if they were as happy as they seemed” (Matalon 181).

Day to day I see people, people I don’t know and people I do know, going about their lives, and I cannot see what is happening underneath.  I had hoped that maybe my photographing some of the surface appearance might be eroded away, but the truth is the camera will only capture what there is to be seen on the surface.

I think that’s why the narrator so often references pictures that she cannot show us.  Because the truth is, even if she could “find” them to put in the book, the pictures of other people would never reveal to us, what she actually wants to say about herself, her life, and her family.




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