Many of us have sifted through old photographs at some point or another, lifting albums out of dust-laden boxes, carefully turning the creased corners of black and white depictions of loved ones who’ve helped us make our way in the world.
When you spend time looking at a photograph you can often be transported to another place and time. As you rotate the image, the glossy resin shimmers in the light, and memories are rekindled.
Photography is a powerful art form, bringing back the distant past, encapsulating precious moments, and giving others a glimpse of who we are and what we have seen, no matter where they are or how far away. More than anything else, it unites us – even in these times of painful separation and division.
I wonder whether back in 1826 when the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the first ever photograph he knew that his ground-breaking invention would change our world forever? When Monsieur Niépce took that first photograph of his garden in Burgundy the ‘heliograph’ process took an epic 8 hours and the result looked more like a Cezanne painting than what we would recognise as a photograph now.
Today, with smart phones, everyone is a photographer. TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram make sharing our personal artworks instantaneous. It may take less time, but that nostalgic magic can still be present. And just because we take so many doesn’t necessarily make our images any less precious.
Whatever the reason for capturing the moment, whether it’s: “boast posts” on social media of a life experience ticked off the list, behind the scenes shots of a production underway, a childhood photo re-creation challenge, or the latest fashionable item, each image is unique and valuable in its own right, captured and frozen in time forever.
When future generations look back on our photographs, I often wonder what they might think. Will they find the filters and editing hilarious or genius? Will they feel they know us better through our photographs, or will it only serve to amplify our differences, and the space and time between us?
And will the fact that our images will most likely never meet a dust-laden box, or even a bent corner, make them any less fascinating?
On this World Photography Day 2020, we want to share some of the Speakeasy team’s favourite images, each special to us for so many reasons. If you love photography too, please join us in sharing your most prized photograph using the hashtag #speakeasyphotochallenge