“Photography is an elegiac art, a twilight art.” (15)
“To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.” (15)
As bleak as it sounds, we are always getting older, stepping closer towards death. And whether you like it or not, there is no pill, diet, or exercise in the world that will stave off the eventual decay of our organic bodies. Time continues to steadily move forward no matter if we are ready or not. That being said, we as a species have always found methods to record and archive our lives for future generations.
Photography presents an opportunity for us to immortalize a brief second in our own history and freeze that moment full of emotion and narrative. Early photography provided people a tangible representation of a memory or moment. But like memory itself, the physicality of the photo paralleled the body- aging and eventually decaying, mortal. Even the best methods of preservation cannot stave off eventual decay of old film. However, with the prominence of digital photography and online media, we are immortalizing the mortal and giving eternal life to the memories these photos contain.
I titled this post “An Elegy to Mortality” because photographs, specifically ones that have been digitized and posted online or saved to the cloud, allow these captured stills to live on seemingly forever. Nothing is mortal anymore because it can be archived online as long as “online” exists. Though we can never truly relive a moment in our lives, digital photography, more so digital media as a whole, is the closest we can come to immortalizing events in our lives. This reading, and through writing my blog post, has made me question how I choose to remember significant life events. I know that photography, especially digital photography, allows me to never forget. But is that how I want to live? Always “remembering the good old days”? Always fondly looking back at “the hey day”? While I will still continue to take photos, I believe this article has made me realize that it is better to let time take you with it than fight against it. Being mortal means living in the moment and not letting the past keep you from moving forward.