There are moments that stop us in our tracks. Moments that force reflexion or paralyze us with emotion, that steal away all words. When we speak of those instances we often refer to the slowing of time, as though life suddenly stutters and affixes itself to those few seconds/minutes. Photography commits these moments to eternity. I believe it’s the most beautiful and powerful tool mankind has created.
This week Leica released Steve McCurry: A Retrospective on Vimeo, in honour of his receiving the Leica Hall of Fame award for outstanding photography. I watched it in HD through my Apple TV and sat there, unable to move for several minutes. It is breathtaking. Aesthetically, humanly — inhumanly.
A dead soldier sprawled on the Iraqi desert, his charred body perfectly matching the exploded tank just a few short feet away.
A man impossibly standing beneath a cargo ship in the middle of a devastated city.
Camels silhouetted against an oil field inferno.
A boy holding a gun to his head, large tears like pearls rolling down his desperate face. The weight of the entire world.
And the immensity, the colors. All so beautiful and terrifying. How do we process these images?
Easy: we stop. We wait and we look, we reflect. Because these are moments when lives slowed to a standstill.
In the last issue of American Photo, McCurry tells how he cut a fence to break into Ground Zero at dawn on the morning of September 12. To document. To remember, always.
His images are now part of our collective visual consciousness.
Watch this video — and stop for a moment.
Have a great weekend.