I Haven’t Told You Everything

Photography is an art of removal.

I’ve been thinking a lot again about the meaning of framing. Unlike the poem, which requires you add everything before you can think about removing things, the photograph achieves through reduction. Whether it’s a scene you stumbled on or built in your head, its most fundamental elements are light and frame. The frame literally defines boundaries. Without it, you might as well stand in that place, at that moment, and point.

Thought is framed, too, of course. We zoom in or out to make sense of systems, systems of systems. But I think the frame is unique in photography, painting, graphic design. The frame of the poem is porous, metaphorical. The frame of sculpture is usually the entire room, or street corner, or park center. The frame of the essay is usually applicable somewhere else. The frame of the photograph is absolute. Pointing out of frame, the image reinforces the meaning of the frame.

Of course, stories are framed, too. A story in photographs is a frame of frames.

So what’s the meaning of framing?

As I said, I haven’t told you everything.

I spared you the boring bits, and many of the tiny, magical moments. Sometimes events didn’t become tiny, magical moments until I borrowed them in my lens. Then I forgot about them, until I found this half-started blog post, which now frames them in my memory. The door to the waiting area to the train to the airport, guarded by gates. Waiting for the Oakland airport to deliver my mother, since I wasn’t allowed to look for her. Stooping to position the walkway to the rental car hut between pylons.

And my friend Amanda’s graduation from her masters program, in public health. The reason we went to California, then, in the first place.

Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by all the stories, I can’t hold them all. I want to point to all stories, at the same time. I want every story to come with a Behind the Scenes reel. I want you to listen all night.

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