The Photographic Paradox

Practical Philosophies

The Photography Blog

Photographic Field Guides
Careers and Ideas
Good Gear
Inspiring Journeys

“Tylers Pass Lookout”
July 2011

1/640th @ f/13.0
ISO 800
Canon EOS 5D Mark II


The Photographic Paradox
Each photograph is a stepping stone on a journey. We think of photography as freezing time and capturing the moment. But what are we really holding onto and where do all those pixels end their journey?

The Photography Blog

Photography is a paradox. No moment is ever truly captured, the moment will not last forever. The perfection of pixels are easily lost in the digital sands of time, erased from storage by neglect or simply lost beneath a global junk heap of electrons, never to be seen again. Nothing is truly permanent, nothing is forever.

Why capture this moment when another is just around the corner?

Jay Griffiths wrote of time. We race against time, we try to stop the clock, we try to preserve the moment. Time doesn't have to be rectilinear, it isn't always running out. Time can be cyclical, it comes around again, the seasons return, the earth renews. Time passes but then returns and it’s never the same the next time around.

Time and time again we seek to capture a moment. The moments do pass but they make space for others to arrive. In the mind these moments merge, they fuse, they meld into something unique that can only exist as echoes of the past. Moments that live only as long as you do.

So many photos fall silent. Their artistic beauty supplanted by enduring obscurity. The brilliance of an Instagram lasts only for an instant, and then it’s swept away like last years wrapping paper.

Your photographs will outlive your body. Some of them. Most will be preserved in darkness, trapped in silicon as they await another moment to shine. In silence they become buried beneath an accumulation of pixels, layered deep under the weight of an information revolution. We dig up the planet only to bury our lives.

The buddhists believe that all things are impermanent. Everything passes. The paradox is that photography is not about making moments last forever. We are melding moments to create new ones, laying a path for others to follow so that they too can experience something unique. One photograph is a stepping stone on a journey. A gallery of images becomes a walk in the park.

Our journeys are cyclical, like the seasons. We come back over and over, although it’s never the same twice. Everything is different even when they’re the same.

The joy of photography is not in permanence. Joy is seeing what returns. The paradox is that everything returns yet nothing remains.

Please Share Your Thoughts

This feature was last updated on Wednesday 03rd April 2019

Copyright: All images and words on this web site are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.
Feature written by / Ewen on Google

Related Links
  Global  Practical Philosophies  paradox  Impermanence  photography

The art of photography is not about the camera, it's about what you do with it. Change your attitude to change your photography.

WrenFest in the City of Melbourne

WrenFest in the City of Melbourne

November is #WrenFest in the City of Melbourne, an event to help researchers attract support for identifying and submitting sightings of the Superb Fairy-wren in our urban parklands. I'll be running an online photography presentation that is open to anyone who wants to learn a little about birds and cameras, plus a photo walk for those living here in Melbourne.



Curation is not just about finding a balance, it’s about finding a story. Your story.

What An Image Should Be

What An Image Should Be

How do you know what processing an image needs? I get asked this a lot. “What should I do to make this image better”. The problem is, that depends on what constitutes your idea of better! The answer lies in you, not the pixels.

Ewen's New Book

"ReIMAGINE" is now available to order online.
It's a very big and very generous book that will help you to reconnect with your creative side.


Stay Inspired
Join Ewen's newsletter for short updates on new articles and photographic inspiration.

Thanks, you are now subscribed. Please check your inbox for a welcome email.

Computer says NO.
Please check the email address.