Only time will tell

Only time will tell

Time has a special relationship with photography: they interact in many ways and you can’t think of photography without considering the impact of time.

It is one of the basic principles of photography: to take a photograph, you need to expose your film or your sensor to light for a certain amount of time. A photograph is a fraction of time. It can be a very short fraction (1/8000th of a second) but it can also be a much longer time (several minutes). The key is that a photograph freezes a moment in time forever. Never forget that when you are shooting: one image will always be different from the next.

You can also photograph time. It may sound counter-intuitive, but when photographing moving objects, you are capturing time. There are several ways to do so: it can be a single long exposure, but also multiple exposures blended together. The final result shows what happens with the passing of time.

Another way to consider time is of course the historical value of photographs: by keeping those frozen moments for several years, decades or maybe centuries (who knows?), we collect history. Whatever the photographed subject is, it will be come history. It can be the family history, the geographic history, the fashion history, the architectural history, etc…. With digital photography the preservation of history has become much easier. It’s much more complicated with digital: a lot more care needs to be applied to film and prints will always degrade.

As you can see, exploring time through photography is a vast and complex subject. I’m actually considering a new project about time, we’ll see if I make it happen! Anyway, keep in mind that time is important in photography and use it at your advantage when shooting.

About this image: it was taken during sunset in Lyon. I used time to freeze the fountain in a beautiful and flowing way. As you can see, it also had an impact on the moving clouds.

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