A Reflection on Time and Photography

Two women and a timepiece - a composite fine-art photo

Two Women on Time

I was editing some more photos from the Brooke Shaden conference on June 9th and my mind was all over the place. 

I play music when I'm editing. And I zone waaaayyyy out. Many parts of Photoshop are now second nature, although others are definitely not. But when I'm editing, the creative process often takes over, and I lose track of what's around me. That happens when I'm writing too sometimes.  

It's a great feeling. Time is meaningless when that happens. Sometimes I look up and an hour or two has gone by but it felt like 10 minutes. 

I love the flow state. 

When we were taking these photos at the conference, I loved the big timepiece between the girls. 

The feeling of being in that state and the timepiece got me thinking about time and how weird it is. And time and photography.

Photos stop time. Photos freeze moments in time. They depict times.

Thinking about time made me think about flying...

I have this thing that happens sometimes when I'm flying.

I think it's because I'm not in control when I'm a passenger. I'm not an anxious flyer. Flying doesn't scare me. In fact, I used to really like flying until the seats got so small and uncomfortable and the leg room so tight my knees are up in my chest. But this thing when I'm flying goes something like this:

We've been flying for an hour or so and the trip is a few hours or longer. 

I look at the time and notice we have a few hours to go. I'm reading or watching a movie. I take a look around for a few moments to notice my surroundings. I hear the noise of the jet engines. I see the people around me. I go back to reading - usually I'm reading. 

Then what feels like a lot of time goes by. Maybe my back is a little uncomfortable from those lovely airplane seats or the beverage service is coming around. So I take a look at the time again. It's only been about 15 minutes. 

I look around, Everything is the same. Jet engines droning, people in their seats or moving about, the gentle rocking of the airplane, the ambient noise of people talking. 

If I'm lucky there's some turbulence.

That breaks things up and makes me feel like I'm flying and not just on a movie set or something. Because it's so odd to think that we're hurtling through the sky at 500 knots per hour when sometimes it barely feels like we're moving at all. 

I go back to my book. 

Now it feels like it's been ages since I last looked at the time. So I look again. 

Wow. It's been 20 minutes. 

I don't get bored. I rarely get bored. I can always read or write or entertain myself making plans in my head. I do get uncomfortable when I'm flying if the flight is more than three hours. I hate sitting for that long. 

That makes time pass slowly. 

But then the really weird thing happens sometimes. I think, "What if we never land? What if this is Sartre's existential hell, and we're going to just fly and fly and fly and never get anywhere?" Remember No Exit?

I think I'm usually in a bit of a half-sleep state when I have that feeling. I shake myself all the way awake and get back to my book. It's such an odd-otherworldly feeling. 

I know, don't let it weird you out. And don't think too much about it next time you're flying!

But time is strange.

What really tells us time is passing?  Our bodies and the sun rising and setting. 

We age.

But if that wasn't happening and we didn't have to "be" somewhere or have deadlines, there would be no such thing as time. 

I've barely noticed the last five years going by, have you? I woke up a couple of weeks ago and thought, "Oh my gosh. It's been almost five years since I got divorced and moved to the City of Atlanta."

That's crazy. It can't be true. But it is. 

I know you have those moments too. 


That's why I made the girls sort of blurred. It gave it a dreamy feeling because, you know, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life (time) is but a dream. 

Here is the photo I started with:

Photo taken at Brooke Shaden's Atlanta Photography Conference

I hope time is good to you!

And see you between the raindrops!