I was just browsing through Flickr and stumbled across a group celebrating Christchurch (the city I live in) by being a place you should share images of the city, both before and after the devastating earthquakes that hit us in 2010 and 2011.
It struck me so very clearly, in a way I hadn’t fully realised. Photography *is* important. It remembers those scenes and events for us so we can come back to them. This is especially relevant when a major disaster happens. For so many people, you have to deal with the fallout from the disaster, you have neither the time or the energy to capture the images that will later be important on a grand scale.
For me personally the stress meant I lost my creative mojo twice over about a year or so, and I worried that I would regret it later. In some ways I do, because I don’t have personal memories of some things and places and people.
But looking through this Flickr group I was comforted. Clearly *other* people had the energy, time and ability to go out and record events as they were happening. This is important because its a key fundamental thing about photography, even though the capturing of the image is solely the experience of the photographer, the image itself CAN BE SHARED!
This is really important and will continue to be important as the children of the city grow up and have children of their own, as visitors come and go. We have records of the before and after, and will record as we continue to rebuild and repair (and hopefully grow). Until now I considered my photography as a personal hobby, something I could share with people when I had an image I thought worthy of the sharing.
I suddenly realise that holds true, but my images *are* important, and not just to me. Maybe one day they will be part of a historical image vault or monument about the day our city broke. Maybe one day they will be important to other people for their historical significance, that I was there, in that place, at that moment.
Its a sobering thought.