Photography and Thoughts
“A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.” [V. Van Gogh]
How can this be true? Could a free meal compete with an uplifting photograph for a homeless man? Maybe it could. Photographs can feed the heart and mind, rather than the body. After a week without food the human body gives up. How long before a human heart despairs if there are no powerful pictures? More than a week! A person may not be happy but they can keep going, keep living. Is Van Gogh just trying to justify all the time he spent painting?
Perhaps I’m looking at it from the wrong angle – I’m assuming the perspective of the person receiving the good deed. Did Van Gogh mean the giver receives equally from a good picture or good deed? The feeling of sharing something good with the world, feeling satisfied with your work. Perhaps.
Ok, I am being a bit provoking here. I do believe that a good photograph can change things. Like words, pictures can be powerful. Pictures can be moving, uplifting, empowering, tearjerking, humorous, revealing, thoughtprovoking, informative, heartwarming and more. Just one picture can do a lot to someone. A picture can challenge, change, or confirm someones perspective.
Photographs can be tools for change. Sharing good (and I would say they have to be really pretty darn good) photographs can be an effective way of reaching other people. But i’m just not sure that we can say they are equal or equivalent to good deeds – that implies we can replace one with the other. (No, I am not saying we should stop doing either of these things. I applaud you if you do either of these things.) But we cannot think it’s enough to just paint an extraordinary picture, photograph a stunning view, weave a magnificent rug, or draw a beautiful image – that’s not enough in life. We couldn’t stop sending aid and send a bunch of lovely framed photographs instead. Man cannot survive on pictures alone.
Maybe I am misinterpretting this quote. I’m not about to stop taking photographs or doing good deeds. But I am in a pensive mood and I’m now going to challenge you to get your thinking caps on too… What do you think is behind this quote? I would love to know.