Looking Back at Stories, Connecting the Dots


Words have always fascinated me, but even while reading the most beautiful of verse, it is the punctuation that forces me to stop and stare. A comma and its meaningful pause, an ellipse and its hesitant possibility… questions, exclamations and of course, that dreaded sign of the end, the full stop. I’m not quite sure how they originated, but it almost seems as if each punctuation mark is a character in the otherwise chaotic world of communication.

It is a lot like photographs, come to think of it. Some photos only give us information. They are the messengers of facts in our lives. They tell. There are others though, that encourage us to imagine. These are photographs that draw us in and play with our minds. They are the ones that show, and not just tell—the punctuation of our visual world. Pictures that excite us, like exclamation marks, anger us, like another exclamation. And then, some photos are just three dots. Ellipses that make us ponder and wonder where the next picture will wander.

Any great photo story is full of these punctuation marks, all at the right time. So is music, for that matter. A great piece is nothing but a well put together sequence of casual strums, calm passages, fervent solos and unexpected improvisation. Of course, in the age of Instagram and our hyperactive social presence, we rarely think about any of this. We upload an image as soon as we click it, and several months later, these scores of pictures come together, to show us one Facebook Look Back video. Should we be a little more discerning about what we shoot, what we share, so that we can write our stories, the way we see them? Or should we allow the music to play? Just shoot and share in the joy of the moment, so that months later, when we look back at our photos, they will come together in tune, with serendipity and magic.

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Better Photography.