Thoughts on Pictures, Blogging & Experience

I really enjoyed reading the blog of Matthew J. Flood titled On Pictures, Blogging, and Experience because I have been wrestling with whether photographing our experience is a barrier to experiencing it. I used to believe this was true although I have to admit to albums and boxes of photos taken while on vacations for the past 50 years in order to save the memories.

Since I purchased my new camera I have been looking at these old photographs of trips and family events and realize that the vast majority lack significance. They are simply a recorded image without meaning, and 99% aren’t very good images. I save them because…

I am new to blogging (a little over a month) and my experience of sharing some of my travel stories and reading other bloggers has changed my perspective, however. I am finding that thinking about how to capture an image, the essence of a place or an event or nature, forces me to think about what I am looking at; to appreciate it more deeply. It is forcing me to think about what I want to record and why, what I find beautiful or worthy, and what is important.

Matthew states in his post that, “After seeing or eating or doing something new, writing about it (and this is true of journaling too) forces me to pause and consider; having an audience (however small—Hi Mom!) forces me to dig deeper and find the interesting parts of what I’ve seen.” I have been journaling for the past 8 years and it forced me to clarify my thinking and to clearly write what was going on in my world. Writing helps us to create meaning, can actually help us to define ourselves. It helped me to heal.

New World Order

New World Order (Photo credit: CowGummy)

I also wonder if blogging is just a new form of a very old tradition – oral story telling to relay history, tradition, culture, find meaning…  I enjoy writing more than speaking so blogging is giving me a fun way to tell my stories. Blogging is allowing me to share a piece of my world in words and images. It is also allowing me to share my experiences, my perceptions, of other people’s worlds. What is exciting about this is that our huge network of potential readers allows us to share perceptions and experiences of each other’s worlds. It gives us the potential to better understand our similarities and differences.

English: Monkeys Blogging Español: Simios blog...

English: Monkeys Blogging Español: Simios bloggeando (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have to admit to feeling a little bit whelmed by the fact that my blog is visited by people from a multitude of countries. It has forced me to think very carefully about the images I post and what I say. I think about whether an image and description of something I have seen or experienced in another country, especially a country that is poorer, will seem offensive to those from that country who may visit my blog. It is so easy to be ethnocentric – believing what we have, what we value, what we do is the normal or natural way.  This is especially problematic for people from countries that are super-powers or with very high standards of living. What we observe elsewhere can be seen as strange and weird or maybe just quaint or funny, but in a way that is subtly inferior. My previous work led to increased cultural sensitivity but this is challenging me to even greater awareness.

In any case, it is exciting for me to be challenged in the way I think about the world and to have found a new way to express who I am through my pictures and words. Thank you for allowing a piece of me to enter your world.

Copyright © Patricia A. Bailey and I Miss Me, Too/ 2012-2013.

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