As I browse through the photographs on my computer, looking for something profound and interesting that will attract the attention of the passer-by, my eyes are drawn to the exif date at the bottom right hand corner of the screen and the date and time at which the image was recorded.
I return my focus to the image displayed on the screen. I don’t remember that exact moment but I do recall the context of the image; one of a humid evening and a crowded esplanade.
I press the right arrow key and the next image is displayed.
One minute has passed and the next moment is held captive on my screen. I flick back and forth between the two and watch the passage of time in quantum leaps, like Scotty beaming up the latest exploration party to the Star Ship Enterprise. How simple it is to see such progression without the ‘in between’. The 2 photographs allow me to repeat this sequence over and over, unchanged, fixed forever, and lingering in my memory and in my ‘reality’. The images are the points in time and they designate a beginning and an end.
But what of the ‘in between’? What has happened to the 60 seconds that existed after and before these photographs? Did this time take place? I have no recall of it. There are no photos to remind me of any events. It’s as though I have the front and back covers of an empty book.
But where are the pages that are missing? They were written. They did contain a lifetime of images, of reflections, of wanting and waiting and greeting and goodbye of death and birth, of accident and incident, of love and hate. Somewhere in that minute a war raged and a soldier felt nothing as the bullet tore out his heart, a boat sank, a marriage was consolidated and another fractured, three children died and a mother wept, while a father welcomed his son into his life again. A house burnt down and a city was built. A seed planted and a forest decimated. An aunt came to visit and she drank tea with her nieces and nephews. A farmer slaughtered a cow to feed his family and shared it with his neighbour. A priest prayed for his flock and a drunk kicked a dog. The tide ebbed just a little as the Moon weaved its way through the cosmos and three atoms were misaligned in a string of DNA forming in a deep and briny slime. The Universe quivered under the strain.
I missed it all. The only thing I have to show is two photographs separated by what could have been the most poignant and profound sixty seconds that have ever taken place since the Big Bang decided to bang.
And where was I? Standing there like a fool adjusting my settings and waiting for ‘the next shot’ to come to me. It was there all the time. I just didn’t see it.
From now on I’m going to take more notice of what goes on between each shot. It’s far more interesting than any photograph I could take.