“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams
I take recognition of familiar surroundings for granted. Here in my own country, the assumption is that most people see more than I do. They’ve all been around longer than I have, and people here make it a point to know stuff. Singapore is clever, it’s true. I learn a new thing about my surroundings everyday from friends, strangers and my mother, whose recall of people and places is excellent, where I am all “dammit, why didn’t I have a dictaphone.”
But Mum couldn’t recognize the spaces in these pictures. Couldn’t tell what she was looking at, never mind where. Not even when I wiped all the processing so she could see it without the monkey-finger mess.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of my parents’ move to this area. Those lamp lit paths above, and the bus stop below?
She’s walked through and to those almost every day for two decades.
I guess she never really looked at any of it that way. We have lived, loved and lost very differently, my mum and I. There is no reason to assume that she and I would share a perspective. Even if we are only talking about the daily grocery-and-food path, or the nearest bus stop. Regardless, it was a startling reminder that no two people see and express the world alike.
Maybe the realization was so stark because the subject was so pedestrian. That something so “common sense,” and ordinary, could be interpreted so differently by 2 people who have walked the same path together countless times.
Every one of us will find different meanings in the most unremarkable of things.
The challenge is in how we honour that.