Strangers on a Photo

I was looking at some old holiday photos last night and was struck by the random strangers that end up in family photos. You get chatting to other families, and the young kids play with each other on the beach, and have pictures taken with each other.

The kids usually look like they’re having fun, but the enjoyment looks intimate, in the sense that you’re enjoying playing together. It’s quite personal and the sense of mystery for me is very strong – you recognise everyone in a happy picture of smiling laughing faces except a small child the same age as you and no-one else in the picture can remember. They’re a complete fantasy screen to me – I wonder what they’ve done, or are doing. Are they still alive? Maybe they’ve become famous, or maybe you’ve met them again without any flicker of recognition.

I think part of the eerieness is that this is a two-way street. Someone somewhere is thinking the same thing, and they’re looking at a picture of you.