Pictures Not Pictured

There’s a part of me that wishes I had been able to take a picture when I saw Celtic Woman at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. I had the cell phone in my hand and the camera ready, and I was close enough to the stage to get a good photo. Unfortunately, I had made the mistake of asking my brother to charge the phone the night before, rather than doing so myself. He hadn’t done as I requested, and when I attempted to take a snapshot, I got a “low battery” notification every time. All around me, audience members were lifting up phones, taking glorious pictures that would no doubt make it to their Facebook or Instagram. I wish I could’ve documented the experience myself as they had.

Of course, there are plenty of pictures of Celtic Woman available to me on stage. But that picture would’ve been my own, my own experience at the concert, my own documentation that I was there, my own souvenir, so to speak, from the occasion. As we read in Erika Larsan’s Photographs Not Taken, “When I take pictures I become as much a part of that moment in time as the person I am photographing.” I’m not sure if that’s necessarily the case in all situations, yet in this case, I think it strangely would’ve been. The picture would’ve not just been a preservation of the concert, but also of me being there, even though I myself wouldn’t have been in the photo.

We live in an era where people are taking and sharing more pictures than ever. Some older people tend to write this off (unfairly) as the younger generation having a vanity issue, but I think it has more to do with it being easier to take and share photos when one has the means to do so readily available. Does this mean when share every picture we take? Of course not, just like how we don’t place every “normal” photograph we take in a photo album. In both cases, though, whether the pictures are digital or “in print,” the outcome remains the same: the pictures not pictured come with the same amount of bittersweet regret.

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