Sunday, March 28, 2010

A photograph says a thousand words...but to whom?

Greatness is thrust into the open world for all to see, but only at times, can the perspective eye appreciate such awesome wonders. I've spent a good time looking through past photos of my venturings here in Taiwan and while they are great to look at and bring back memories of old, I think I am left with a stumped feeling. For I think, why am I looking at these pictures of experiences that were rather than experiencing the now. I think photographs do an okay job at taking in the experience and sharing it with others. People who want to know that I'm safe, that I'm having fun, that I'm still Brandon can look at these pictures as proof of relying on such introspective ideas. In a broader scope though, the photograph really doesn't explain a whole lot, the photo leaves the viewer with only a glimmer of the true experience.

A single image can say a thousand words, but to whom? These words are meant for the one experiencing them, not for the viewer to decide. That's what I find most haunting about a photograph, is that it can be the most mesmerizing thing, yet at the same time, be the most deceivable. It is impossible for a photograph to take on the job of representing the day-to-day depth of being in the moment and living up to the breadth of that moment, the intricacies behind the smells of cedar, the layers of mountain tops, the feeling of sunken grass beneath the feet, or the still-subtle taste of milk tea on my lips. And while I'm smiling in this photo expressing happiness, maybe I'm really lonely. Or while I'm making a goofy face in that photo, maybe I'm just aiming to be excepted by this new and different culture by the only means in which I know how. Then again, maybe it's all what the viewer sees, that I'm smiling because I'm happier than I've ever been or I'm making a goofy face just because I'm a goofy kid.

I find that while living here, I try to avoid the stigma behind a guy trapped behind a camera and try to open myself up to the experiences of the now. While in places unknown, I observe and try to the best of my ability to match my observations, become a mirror in which to imitate the life surrounding me. Being in this new environment, with fresh views to explore, a new language to develop, and new rules and laws, allows me in some ways to be a kid again, to take it all in and live it like it was my first and last day. To breathe in the orange fragrance ('hen xiang') as I try to fit as naturally into the space I have found myself in. I try the things that were once unusual in hopes of gaining a further understanding of the people I surround myself with. That instead of capturing them with a lens, a photo that welts inside a memory bank, I am rather able to take in the behavior of the people, really try to understand their movements and their way of life, in order to capture them individually as a whole. I was once told that I was the type in which "while in Rome, does as the Romans do". It's hard for me to disagree with this statement because I am wanting the life awaiting behind the curtain after I step onto a new stage of experience. And as I balance the individual self with that of a new discovery of being, I step into a place of understanding and learning. I acknowledge that it is through self trial and sacrifice that great things form.

I'll continue the picture postings and the sensical data in hopes of creating a picture worthy of a thousand words whispered softly into the ears of the ones I love in hopes that they catch a glimmer of a moment here. But know that it's just a moment.


  1. So true! I've been asking myself some of the same questions lately. I feel as though in this age of social media that pictures are taken merely to show what places one's been to and which people one is hanging out with. But honestly, sometimes taking pictures of such events and of such people detracts from the actual experience.

    It's interesting how you say that sometimes we create a false sense of how we really are--a smile when we're feeling lonely, or a goofy face when we're trying to fit in and be accepted. I wonder when we look back at those pictures, if our memories will be distorted as well. Will we remember the loneliness or the awkwardness we were feeling?

    Anyhow, I really enjoy your posts! They keep me thinking.

  2. This is intriguing, Brandon. I'm such a huge fan of photography, so what an interesting perspective. You know, this is partly the reason I deleted my Facebook, because I felt I was living through photographs of myself, rather than living and realizing who I was at present. I've never thought of that idea of what persona people are portraying in photographs, behind the expression, although I've never been a fan of posed photos for that very reason. Interesting...I'll have to think about this for a while before I say too much!