The Frame

Photographs are bounded by edges we call “the frame”. Framing something insignificant makes it significant. Therapists talk about “the frame” all the time. They say we decide what is significant through our focus. They say that how we frame what we experience makes all the difference in the world. Some say the frame creates our reality.

The assignment Will gives us in our Friday afternoon production lab is to take photographs with our eyes closed. He wants us to listen to our environment and snap the shutter without planning or controlling what our photographs will look like. Linda is my partner. When I have my eyes closed, she’s standing “guard” and I’ll do the same for her.

One of the cameras I brought with me is a Canon SLR 35-mm. I haven’t used this camera in years, but I like its weight in my hand. It’s the camera I used in the months after my grandmother’s death, when I discovered how healing roaming around taking pictures of nothing significant can be.

The image I’ve posted here I took with my eyes closed. Ritz Camera developed the film and saved the image on a CD as a jpeg file so I could complete the class assignment.

I think this image is beautiful. If I’d had my eyes open and pressed to the viewfinder, I would never have composed this image with the lightpole dissecting it into two pieces and the fence blurring out of recognition in the foreground. The red brick wall filling the background is peppered with arched windows framing empty space. There’s both confusion and order in this image. The only coherent word is “hole”. The only human figure is emerging from behind the pole, dwarfed by it. Numbers which make no sense are on a metal bin. They’re bigger than the man. They remind me of numbers on the arm of a prisoner from a Nazi concentration camp – I have no idea why, but the association both disturbs me and makes sense.

I wouldn’t have seen this if I hadn’t frozen this moment in time on film in this frame. I wouldn’t have seen this with my eyes open.