Two years ago I wrote a short blog on the inability of photographs to convey motion. I’d like to expand on that idea with another short blog tonight.

Photographs, as mentioned, do a good job capturing the image of a person, but they can’t capture motion. That’s okay though, right? One out of two isn’t a terrible score.

The thing is that it’s not one out of two. It’s one out of six. There are four other senses which photographs leave unsatisfied.

Hearing is one of them. Photographs, as you may be aware, produce no audio output. And that’s a shame, since the sounds that a particular person makes are almost as defining as their image. No two people sound exactly the same, after all, and you can probably tell your friends apart just by their laugh. But you can’t convey the sound of a laugh through a photograph. That’s one of the things you miss out on.

Smell is another thing. Like it or not, you produce your own unique smell. Some people’s scents are more prominent than others, to be sure, but everyone has a distinctive scent to them. Some people smell like shit. Some people smell really alluring. But in all cases it’s a distinctive scent. Have you ever been in a crowded place and suddenly thought “Wow, someone smells just like _________!” It’s not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen from time to time. And, even though you might not admit it, catching a whiff of someone you know is comforting, even if they don’t have a particularly pleasant aroma. It’s the familiarity that makes it so nice. But you can’t capture that in a photograph either.

Then there’s touch. This one is pretty straight forward. Only the most jaded of human beings will tell you that (nonviolent) physical contact with another person does not feel good. A handshake. A high five. A hug. A handjob. All very good shit. And again, touch is something that varies from person to person. Everyone has a slightly different handshake. Everyone high fives a little differently (and with varying degrees of accuracy). Everyone hugs a little differently. I was, of course, joking about that last one. I just wanted to add a fourth thing that started with H to the list. But yes, everyone administers a handjob differently as well. You can’t convey any of that through a photograph. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could look at a photo of someone a receive a high five or a hug (or a handjob, for that matter)? Alas, photographs cannot do that either.

And taste, well… You’re probably not tasting someone unless you’re really friendly with them or really hungry. Either way, you can’t duplicate that through photos either.

 

Like I’ve said before, photographs are wonderful for capturing a moment in time and making it eternal. But although photographs have the incredible power of being able freeze time, they also have the weakness of only being able to convey the image of a person, while dropping everything else that makes that person real.

And so, I beg of you: When you have a living, breathing human being in front of you, do not take it for granted. Cherish every wave, every laugh, every hug, every whiff of bad breath, and, if you are so inclined, every taste. Everyone, sooner or later, is reduced to a photograph, and while photos are nice, they’re just not the same.

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