Photos are much more than visual information, stored on an analog or digital medium. Each photo captures the moment in time. After forty years, I often refer to my camera as a time machine when I think of family photos or photos of landscapes that no longer exist. Photos become reminders of the passing of time. Within a short period of life, anyone using a camera can capture the serious changes in the social environment and in the natural surroundings. Often she or he is not aware of this. Personally, I experience history as social, political and ecological transformation that picks up an ever-increasing speed. Significant changes occur within a few years, not decades. How blind and ignorant are those who do not recognize this?
The value of a photograph as a documentary evidence of change we often recognize only much later. The realization elicits astonishment, sometimes even shock. The growing up and aging of one’s own children, moments in the life of the deceased. The joy, the shyness, the questioning look of parents or grandparents, the curious eyes of the toddler. The memento mori (remember that you are mortal) and carpe diem (seize the day) lie close together.
Anyone who, like me, frequently travels by bicycle or on foot in the Alps or highlands, experiences the melting of the glaciers, the dying of the forests, the catastrophic droughts, the extreme weather events at first hand. Climate change irreversibly alters landscapes in just a few years. It is often difficult to refer to one’s memory when returning to one’s favorite place after some time. Photos are an irrefutable evidence and often surpass the perceived extent of the change.