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Τετάρτη, 24 Ιουλίου, 2024
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionA sad generation with happy pictures

A sad generation with happy pictures

By Foteini Lioliou,

Nowadays, people take pictures all the time mainly because they wish to capture moments in time. To capture a blissful celebration or an unforgettable experience. They tend to take as many pictures as they can during a wedding or a birthday party but they “forget” to take photos of gloomy or sorrowful situations. The question is why is this happening?

Nobody is aware that only very few people on this planet take pictures of unhappy times. Most people photograph the bride or the groom at a wedding but no one photographs a homeless person living in the most unsanitary and dangerous place in the city. No one captures the flower that is dead. Instead, they picture it when it is blooming and thriving.

All these thoughts can be explained in a simple manner. Nobody, not ever, wishes to recall sad faces or memories. It is the happiness, the laughter, and the smile, one wants to recall.

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) Larmes (Tears) 1930-32. Gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP-Paris/ARS-USA, 2000. Image source: ago.ca

There are also cases in which people prefer remembering a fake smile to remembering a sad face. Under no circumstances, do they want to show their unhappiness in pictures. They truly feel that faking and pretending they are happy is the best policy.

Yet, photography is a form of art that cannot overlook the sadness in people’s faces. On the contrary, it employs a creative way to depict despair and loneliness. Photographers like Man Ray attempted to provide a view of a sad and desperate soul. Man Ray, a photographer born in 1922, influenced by the pain that the First World War inflicted on people tried to photograph the shadows and the misery the war imprinted on people. Here is one of his greatest works:

Another photographer who managed to capture the emotional state of people was Krass Clement. His work was significant as it represented the sorrow and isolation of his subjects in the most perfect way. Clement did not follow topics that seemed to enjoy themselves and have fun at parties but rather issues that were isolated and seemed emotionally unavailable. In one of his works, he recorded an image of a man being in a pub all alone, and his facial expressions reflected his desperation and misery.

Krass Clement’s ‘Drum’ (1996). Image source: krassclement.com

But photographers are photographers. They can show the beauty of a melancholic face with their cameras. What about the rest of the world? Well, if you take a picture of yourself crying and look at it in the future when you are finally over the situation that caused this melancholy, you will feel so much relief because you will know that you made it. You were capable of going through emotional turbulence and still recovering from it. Therefore, I challenge you to also take pictures and become the photographer of your life even when you do not want to photograph it.

Unfortunately, in this generation, the majority of people photograph happy faces and happy events. Nevertheless, it is equally important to take pictures of sad faces and situations as they belong to the real world as well. Photography is a form of art that is not only capturing cheerfulness and joy but also despair and misery. It offers a representation of the real world. A glimpse of how things were at a certain period of time. By avoiding taking pictures of hapless places and people, you avoid seeing the truth that reality depicts. Life is not just a collection of happy memories but also a collection of melancholic memories. One must not forget that. It is perhaps a sin to think that life is always supposed to be merry. It cannot be. It has its ups and downs and photography is there to encapsulate this journey. Life is beautiful and what makes life beautiful is both sadness and happiness.

  • 7 Photographers That Made Despair And Sadness Their Greatest Muses.  news.culturacollectiva.com. Available here 
  • Emotional Pictures: Sad Faces, Fake Smiles and Angry Photographers. witness.wordpressphoto.org. Available here 

  • Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky). moma.org. Available here 



Foteini Lioliou
Foteini Lioliou
She is studying English language and Literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She has always been interested in literature and the way literature touches people’s hearts. She hopes that one day she will create a piece of writing that will inspire others. Her journey to write a heartfelt story has just begun.