Standing Firm And Staying Still
I was trying to explain to someone the other day why I have always steered clear of moving images. Ever since I first picked a camera up back in the sepia days of my youth, people have always seemed to see still images as a poor second-cousin to the magic of moving pictures. At first there was home cine film, and then video cameras; and I was able to explain my reluctance by pointing out that the equipment was bulky and the media was expensive. Once digital video via a smart phone button came on the scene, such excuses became as redundant as a director’s clapperboard. However, despite protestations that wanted a record of little Holroyd running on the sands swinging his bucket and spade, I stood firm and my pictures stood still. It is difficult to rationally explain, but there is something about the way a still image focusses attention on a specific moment, and invites you almost to become an active participant in a scene rather than a passive viewer. Faced with an old film which included two men sat on a rock near the seaside, you would perhaps give them a passing glance – it would be the most you would be able to afford in a world where images were coming at you 24 frames per second. Given a still image, however, you can invest time and attention. You can explore the background, examine their clothes, note the cigarettes, wonder what they might be drinking. You learn to live with a particular moment – a questioning look, a carefree smile – and it becomes more than just a moment in time. In this particular case, I know that the sitting man on the left of the photograph was my father, and it must have been taken in the 1930s. The photograph appears on my daily calendar, and therefore I have him for a full day whilst I sit at my desk. We can sit, chat, and this evening share a drink. Try doing that with an old VHS cassette.