Photo, photo, on the wall.
Please do tell me what you know.
Are the smiles hiding tears?
Or are the tears hiding smiles?
Are you all truth?
Or are you all lies?
Photography is a long time passion of mine. When I was a little girl I loved poring over photos of the faces long gone, and the faces well known and much loved. I often fancied that I could tell the stories of these people with their brave smiles. But even then, I recognised the happiness portrayed in those photos was often more a wish than the truth. I saw it in my own face in those photos. The taut smile I wore, hiding a world of harsher truths.
Now as an adult, I am the person behind the lens. I orchestrate the happy family moments, the smiling toddlers, playing children, the couple in love. Regardless of whatever the truth might be, I give them the illusion of perfection: perfect couple, perfect children, perfect family.
I question this urge for perfection, an urge even I succumb to as a photographer. As I move around taking shots, looking for the best light, the best angle, I am seeking that ever elusive "perfect" shot: the shot that sums up the moment in a million and one different ways and ties the strings of life and love together. I have taken thousands of photos, and yet rejected thousands, all because they were 'imperfect'... they were out of focus, poorly positioned, the subjects were moving too much (or too little) or the light was wrong.
But why? Why do we seek perfection among our family and friends albeit in photo form? Is it because we prefer the illusion, and the happy memories? Or is it because we fear the truth?
I would like to think there is a vein of truth in my photos: that they acknowledge the imperfection behind the perfection. Whilst every family have their pockets of joy and happiness, they also have moments of great pain, or unhappiness. All those emotions should recognised as legitimate. But somehow, somewhere, perfection and fantasy has become more important than the truth.
Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be.
A photo can show any number of perfect things: health, happiness, family togetherness. Sometimes some (or all) of those things exist in that moment. But often, oh so often, it is all an illusion of perfection.