Why We Create

The second half

“If you want to watch what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph.”

Merlin Mann, Roderick on the Line (1:12:30)

The conventional take is that social media presents us with only half a story. We see their view from the summit of Mt. Shasta, their tiny espresso on Rue Mouffetard, their group photo in Napa, friends arm in arm, wide smiles. We see their joy and their fulfillment (this line of thinking goes), and we miss the other half: the stumbles and struggles, the insecurities, the boredom.

What if our friends have been showing us all along?

Yes, our Instagram feeds our curated. Everything, from our subject, to our framing, to the filter we apply, each choice is the story of a moment – not as it was, but as we need to remember it. Each photograph captures a feeling we fear might slip away.

There is a second half to every photo, a face in the vase.

We may feel closer to our friends when we consider the choices that went into their photos. Why here? Why this moment? Why do they want to hold onto this, remember with this lens? What happened just outside the frame? What is it they fear to lose?