This post deals with sensitive topics. If you aren’t in the mood for something serious and heavy, I would recommend leaving this post, and reading it later.
A man dressed in a gray trench coat, tied loosely around his waist, taps a large cigar into an ashtray while exhaling a steady stream of smoke. The man is sitting in a cafe, as we can tell from the cup of coffee in front of him and the bill with a salt shaker on it. All his movements are frozen in the shot, the picture taken perfectly, at the exact time.
All black and white. No yellow, or green, or blue. People aren’t classified by race, and there is no night and there is no day. The picture shows peace, no gunshots, no bombings, and no inequality.
What’s broken behind the glass is what’s actually real. What’s captured by that shutter, a moment of peace, isn’t real. That woman in the dark sunglasses, facing away from the camera? Her son was just shot for being gay. That boy with the cool shoes? He’s addicted to drugs, and he wants to, Lord, has he tried to stop, but he can’t.
This is a picture in a hallway. A bright hallway, the walls painted in a pale shade of green, and vases full of flowers, decorated with pictures and paintings. The newlyweds who live in that bright house, bought the picture because it was beautiful. The photographer took the picture because it was a beautiful picture to take, a scene worth capturing.
And it was worth capturing. But not everything is real. That wildlife photographer that you follow, the one who takes pictures of tigers? That’s real. But the man in the monochromatic photograph? How do you know it’s real? How do you know that was a moment of peace?
The glass of a camera is transparent. It captures whatever can be seen through the lens. But what you can see through the lens is not always real. People are not transparent. They are made of layers of complexity. Not transparency. We aren’t made of glass.
This was written in response to the Daily Prompt.