Give me back my story

This weekend, I visited a fine exhibition of photographs by Leonard Freed.

His photos have this rare quality. They take you, capture you, suck you into the scene. The longer you look at a photo, the more you want to know about the lives of the people that pass by on the photo. Every minute, the photo teasingly reveals a bit more, and makes you more curious. Some photos keep occupying your mind, and throughout the exhibition, you keep returning to them to have another look.

With these photos, Freed manages to walk a thin line. Just a bit to the left, and the photo tells too much. This is the fate of many almost-brilliant photos: they impose their story on you. They don’t allow you to speculate freely about what happened before and after they were taken. Just one second too late, and the special moment is gone. The photo is just another daily image, without any special compelling meaning.

In between these two, there is this special balance. The photo doesn’t tell you stories, it gives you hints about them. Whiffs about agony, happiness, pain, anger, mistakes and importance. It forces you to speculate on these stories. You can’t stop yourself from spinning these stories in your head. –At least, I can’t. Your mileage may vary.

Leave a Reply