The black and white photo below is a scene Ansel Adams photographed in 1947. A simple depiction of life at a street corner in Los Angeles. Why would he photograph that? At a time when people mostly used their cameras for special occasions and maybe big purchases–new house or car–those people probably couldn’t fathom making photographs of strangers on the street.
But this photo, being 74 years old, shows life with a different set of technology than today. Older cars. Stop signs not stop lights. Time makes it especially valuable. Photographs we make today will be very much valued in 74 years, 2095.
We can’t see how much time will change how we look in 30, 50, 75 years while we are here in it. What we see looks normal and we assume it’s how it always will be. Just like we can’t see ourselves aging while looking at the mirror daily. But others who see us only occasionally, they see the changes. I wish I had made street photographs in New York in the 1970s when I was there as a child. Those photographs would be wonderful to see now.
So, it would good if we were like Ansel. Making photographs of the simple ordinary views of today. Mixed with a little time, they will become invaluable to people in the future. It’s why we make photographs, to travel back in time and relive those bygone days.
Just like in 1947, it’s the photograph that other people aren’t thinking of making. And if we miss it, the scene will be missed.