• Christina Peña

The Magic of a Photo

"A picture is worth a 1000 words."

Or at least that is how the story starts. I have recently been obsessed with the magic behind photography. The fact that the art of photography started with a light flashing, and has somehow turned into an art form that captures the reality of a moment or even of a story that you may never remember. It’s the moments we all might just take for granted that we need captured the most.

Just for some context I have 29,005 pictures on my phone. All of them are laced with memories and feelings that I apparently never want to erase. But I have purged before and erased several thousands filled with memories that cause pain. When you erase the photo does it mend you? Does it fix what is broken? Or does it remind you of what could be? What you once had?

If you are a millennial like me, you probably have a clear memory of Lindsay Lohan's Parent Trap. Remember the scene in their isolation cabin, when the girls put together the photo of their parents. Both girls describe it as a pathetic old thing crinkled and ripped right down the middle but it is the one piece they have left of their parent. It doesn’t matter the quality of the picture or what the subjects were wearing. The photo itself is the magic. The emotions attached are what makes it special. So my question becomes: Is the magic photography? Or is it the emotions we place on a picture?

Here's another way to look at it. I have a beautiful photo of the TWA terminal at JFK Airport from the 60’s, hanging in my bed room. It has always been special to me. I’m not quite sure why. But I think that it is because I have always associated freedom with airports. The other layer is that NY holds a special place in my heart. Lastly there is a small group of women standing in the center of the photo. So essentially this photo represents women, freedom and love. 3 things I hold very near and dear to my heart. I’m not in this photo and yet the emotions that it brings up in me, makes it magical.

I know people hate pictures. Maybe it’s because you are telling yourself a story that you don’t look great. Or that you’re not photogenic. Or that this moment isn’t really that special. But as we go into month 11 of a global pandemic, where I haven’t seen my best friends in that whole amount of time. The pictures we have together no matter how bad, AND WE HAVE SOME BAD ONES, are getting me though it. Seeing my best friend’s smile or our stupid photoshoot in a gas station, are what brings me joy.

I think the real answer is up to you. But to me the magic of photography is the visceral reaction of emotions that it causes in you.

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