During last night’s Thanksgiving dinner, the guests would suddenly freeze during a conversation or while lifting a forkful of food to their mouths when a voice would sing out- “Picture!” All the pictures were taken on digital cameras or smartphones and end up being stored digitally for future retrieval- on a computer.
It is doubtful that any of these images will ultimately end up in a box of old photographs at some future flea market table or estate auction. No stranger will pull out a photo of the eight year old boy who flashed a Halloween pumpkin grin with his new grown-up front teeth or a closeup of the aging woman’s hand, now speckled like a fish, gracefully holding a champagne flute.
I have shoe boxes full of old photographs that have been rescued from the trash or picked up at yard sales. Like the narrator of the video, I too have constructed whole narratives around them and some of the strangers have become integrated into my own personal narrative. We are after all, story tellers.
Perhaps Flickr and Facebook will be mined in the future for narrative possibilities, but there will be no touching and lifting and turning over and musing before plunking down a dime or a quarter for a photograph. The process will be different, but I have no doubt that the storytelling will continue.
Talking Pictures by Ransom Riggs