Photographs are a moment into someone else’s life like flash fiction or a conversation on an airplane. We see a microsecond of life before it passes out of our own life, usually forever. I love street photography for the same reasons that I love great short stories. We get every packed into one little single serving without the importance and heft of a novel (or movie, TV series, whatever). I’ll go with my favorite short story writer here, Flannery O’Connor, and admit that I read and reread her stories. And every time I learn something new, like picking up a new detail in a photo, about life or the human condition or grace or whatever you want to call it. I could be stranded on the proverbial desert island and I’m certain that I could live with only two books instead of ten. Faulkner’s Light in August, which I read every year, and the complete collection of O’Connor’s stories.
But this photo reminds me a little of a short story. There is a flash of life, a moment that we think we see but underneath we acknowledge that there is more here than we know. My interpretation of her expression changes with my mood and illustrates how much of a role our own emotions play in our understanding of a piece of art.