truth and beauty

Yesterday, I taught a high school class about Photography. It was very basic, as I am by no means an expert in the field, but I really enjoyed it. It felt good to teach about something I am interested in, that I am fairly passionate about, as of late. One of my coworkers, the actual teacher of the journalism class I was in, brought up a good point to me that has been stuck in my brain for the last 24 hours.

During my lesson on photography, I discussed bringing truth out through your photography. I was speaking in relation to not using filters, but going on photoshop to bring out the reality of the images you saw with your eyes. As a travel photographer, I think it is important to give an accurate view of what you are capturing. Sure we go on photoshop and tweak a few things here and there, to make it the best version of what we saw. But ever since I started taking my photography more seriously, I have made sure to try to enhance the picture’s beauty without taking away the truth of the image. But as I had a beautiful sunset picture on the screen, he asked me if that was really truth though. At first I was confused, how could it not be? It was the sunset I saw Sunday evening on my way back from Enemanit Island. But he didn’t mean did I alter it, make it more colourful and that kind of thing. He meant, I am only showing one side of the story…

The photo that was projected when asked if this was really truth.

Sure I am living on an island, where I am able to watch and capture beautiful sunrises/sunsets on the ocean, or go to the beach and swim in the kind of blue/green water you’ve only ever seen in pictures. But am I capturing the truth of the island by only showing photos from that point of view. What about when I went to Laura Beach and saw a beach covered in trash? Or the other day when I was walking down the street and looked to my right and just saw loads of trash, an abandoned car and a pig just standing in the middle of it all, with the beautiful ocean right behind? Do I take pictures of these things? Do I post them when I do?

I realized yesterday that I don’t post these kinds of things, not as often anyways. Why? I went to my instagram and looked through my photos, and saw a pattern. A pattern of sunrises and sunsets, interspersed with photos of my life here. Sure sometimes it’s photos of beautiful blue/green water, but I also have posted photos of children playing catch with cardboard for gloves, or kids playing in the water during a rain storm. This is the reality of life here, that doesn’t get as many likes perhaps on my photos I have captured of it, but I am not that concerned with how many likes I get on a picture, as much as I am concerned with just sharing a little bit of my world with the rest of the world. This made me sad to think that I haven’t been as honest and truthful in my sharing as I could have been. Sure I watch a sunrise and sunset every day, and it’s hard not to post about every single one of them. They are beautiful and make me smile. But it is also important to post another side of the truth of this place. It’s not clean and pristine. It’s not everyone’s idea of ‘paradise’. When it rains, it floods. Sometimes you will be floating in the water and a can of pop will float by you. Sometimes you see pigs in a pile of filth, literally.

With thinking about all this, it made me want to bring to light these things. To start paying attention to the truth in my sharing and making a point to share truth and beauty as I see it. This island has it’s good and bad just like the rest of the world. I will make a point from now on to show the good, the bad and the ugly, because what is beauty anyways? Who decides?

I thought I was done this post until my friend came into my classroom today and we were discussing this whole topic. And he brought up a valid point. When I am editing my pictures on photoshop, I am relying on my memory to enhance the picture in a way that shows the photo in the same way I saw it with my eyes. My truth. My memories. But this truth is subjective. My memories are subjective. We never truly remember things exactly as they were. So how can I claim truth in my photos, if they are only my own truth? Personally I think it’s half the battle, just knowing that truth is subjective; being aware that many people may have seen that same sunset, but saw it differently than I, and in turn remembered it different than they had seen it, and I had seen it. We may not be showing universal truth, but our own truth. By sharing our photos, we are letting others see what we see. How we interpret the world around us. We allow others to see our ‘truth’.

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