The Power of a Meaningful Image and a Photographer’s Despair

by Santosh Korthiwada

Imagine that you are standing on the edge of a still water lake. The water is still, the scene is serene, everything is so calm and quiet that you could hear your own breathing. You stand there for a while and think Oh no! Why it is so quiet here when there is so much chaos out there? So, you take a small rock, gather all your strength and throw it as far as you can. You hold your breath with anticipation. The rock takes the flight and speed, reaches a certain height, distance and starts going down. Faster and faster and ‘SPLOSH!’ – makes a noise, splashes the water as your rock hits the surface of water.

You are witnessing the entire scene and see that the impact created a ripple in the calm waters. The circular, wavy ripple goes on for a distance and the waves get smaller and smaller and finally disappear. The lake went back to its previous state of being still, there is no movement and there is no sign of the ripple you created. You think, that’s it; it’s over. Nothing has changed; you couldn’t change a thing! You give up in despair.

Well you are wrong! Because a lot has changed. At least a couple of things to start with;

1. It might seem that the lake has gone back to its previous state. It can never ever go back to its previous state of being still as your ripple permanently altered it. Now the current still lake is “a lake whose waters were once splashed and rippled”.

2. Because you were standing outside & above the lake, you only saw the surface. You didn’t get to see how far and deep your rock traveled into the depths of water. It has traveled until it reached the bottom of the lake and as it traveled, it continued to pierce the stillness of the lake and created innumerable internal ripples.

Just because you couldn’t see it, doesn’t mean it never happened.

Now imagine this. Replace the lake with human consciousness and replace the rock you threw in the lake, with a photograph you made, with a story you told and a life you touched. The impact it created is physically visible only on the surface, to you. But it continued for a long time but invisible to the naked eye. The deeper the lake, the larger the rock, the stronger the ripple. You have permanently altered human consciousness with a meaningful photograph. Once we witness the meaning, our consciousness can never go back to its previous state, thought it might appear to be. The transformation is still happening as it takes various forms and touches lives in various ways that we can’t fully imagine or understand.

But remember, that if you choose to through a rock made of salt, irrespective of your strength, it will travel the shortest distance in air, make the tiniest sound, create the smallest ripple and disintegrate on surface and never get to see the bottom of the lake. So, choose your rock carefully and that is your responsibility.

Finally, don’t think you are alone. Sure, you must be standing alone on the edge of this lake. But there are many lakes and many edges. You might not realize it but your rock does. It knows that it’s not alone when it sees many other rocks of all shapes, colors and sizes welcome it to the bottom of the lake. You are not the first one to throw a rock, standing on that edge of this lake and you won’t be the last one. As more and more meaningful rocks are thrown into the lake, they collectively raise the level of the waters.

Your search for meaning and contributing a meaningful photograph is actively expanding our consciousness. Despair or otherwise, this is the truth of photography and a photograph.