The other night we had friends over for dinner. It was a nice surprise that we had an unexpected guest arrive – one of the city raccoons found it’s way up to the second floor balcony of the adjoining house. I ran inside, grabbed a camera, and went out to the balcony. I had to sit on the railing and lean into the space to get a shot. While shooting, I was not thinking the rail would give way, or that I might lose my balance and fall twenty feet to the patio below, or that the raccoon might be aggressive and lunge at the camera, or that the neighbours might discover me and believe I was taking candid shots through their window.
I was only thinking of the frame.
Raccoons can be bold, but this was the most passive raccoon I have ever seen. Look at his eyes! I yelled to the group there was something wrong. In the photograph you can see a wound on his nose, and I can’t help but imagine there is some other sad part of his story. Did he have a run-in with a dog? Had he recently fallen off some other balcony and hurt himself? Was this a hideout spot where he thinks he can be safe until things calm down a little? Where does he go next?
When you freeze time with a photograph, there may or may not be clues left behind in the image that tell us a story. We can infer some information based on our experience and what appears in the image. But the rest can be left to our imagination.