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About the 'Still' Image

Why a ‘still’ image? The still frame holds a moment in suspension. In contrast, the moving image is 24-30 different frames a second. The moving image is about the next moment, about the anticipation. The moving image being about what’s coming next, is a distraction from the present moment. The single frame of the still image is not about time moving on, but time held. The still image is about the contemplation of a single moment, is about knowing more about a single moment by stopping time so allowing one to examine and reflect on, rather than be taken from, distracted from, one’s contemplation.

Each serves a purpose. Having time to explore the suspended moment leads one more deeply into the nature of things, not things as they appear, but things as they are. Only by suspending time can we imagine, dream, explore our own self. The moving image takes us to a place the moving image dictates. The moving image doesn’t give us time to question the journey we’re on. It leads. It determines the story. In the end we assent to or dismiss its story.

With contemplating the still image, our dreams and imaginings determine the direction we go in, become the story, a story determined from within.

With the moving image, meaning is achieved by constant stimulation; the stimulation helps us feel something has changed in us, something of import has happened.

With the still image, the line and the light, the colour and the shape is not flashing by, about stimulation. Instead the line and light, colour and shape play on the structures of our perception, enter the deeper recesses. The gesture of a worthy image leads inward to that knowing of self. The worthy still image goes behind what we see, is not about things as they appear, but about things as they are.

A good photograph helps us to feel more of life, and so feel life more.

As literary critic John Banville describes, art is not about making a great statement; it’s about a gesture that awakens one, for a brief moment, awakens one.

Different images will speak to different people for we are none of us alike. We find an image we love, something about it we love. In the stillness of the image we are able to contemplate, explore, imagine, dream. Spending much time with a still image that we love slows us down. In this way, we find solace, discover our own self, recognize our own humanity, away from the speed of life racing by. Why a ‘still’ image? To suspend time passing; to contemplate time being.

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