An unfocused picture can teach us a lot about ourselves

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readNov 21, 2021
Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash.

I miss seeing pictures that showed people in not-so-perfectly practiced positions. Like the ones that capture us in uncomfortable moments and those with friends and family members making faces that weren’t meant to be photographed.

How we want to be remembered for eternity seems to change with each generation. What we used to try to memorialize in a Kodak moment has now become a filtered-Instagram post. Today’s photos make it difficult to know what is real. I think what I miss seeing on printed little squares of glossy paper is people simply being people.

When I look back at pictures from throughout the last 100 years, the kinds of feelings that run through my mind give me a sense of knowing who people were and what they were thinking. I could tell when the photo was taken because it looks a little too yellow or a little too brown.

The furniture patterns, the height of the rug, the width of the TV set. What we wore and how we wore it. They were all giveaways to knowing how we lived and what was happening at the time.

I could tell that people were ok with being ordinary during ordinary moments. Friends outside a nightclub where almost all you could see was the light of the flash on their faces. Old neighbors on street corners, just standing there with a smile captured in one take. No asking for a second shot to show their good side.

When I look at pictures of my grandparents’ generation, they are usually a little creased on the corners. Sometimes they have water damage, but one thing is for sure, the people in the photos are just who they appear to be. The clothes they have on wasn’t put on just to look their best in a photo. They aren’t always standing next to colorful flowers. A skyscraper or national landmark isn’t always positioned so that there is just enough room to show the people and the building equally.

And yet, the photos are perfect. People are not always staring directly into the camera. Sometimes what they are holding is blurry because of hand moments. Photobombing wasn’t a…

--

--

Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.