This is one of those incredible photographs that cannot possibly described in writing. It is so frustrating how you can’t recreate what we see in words, and indeed, almost nothing we see requires words to understand. It’s all pre-language. Vision is nearly a billion years old. Language a couple hundred thousand. Written language maybe five thousand years old. The speech and language thing in the brain is new, very primitive, extremely limited. And when I see a picture like this that tells a whole story, and realize that I could spend hours trying to tease out a few sentences that would do the same, I begin to hate photographers. I mean think about it, someone invented a camera less than two centuries ago and within two or three decades unbelievable photos, these perfect images, begin to appear. Iconic things. Hell, when we think of the Civil War we see Matthew Brady’s dead strewn in a field, not any of the word images in thousands and thousands of histories, memoirs, poems, and novels. That was the secret of Ken Burns’ Civil War–the photos that the television camera would play across, giving an illusion of animation to still life. The narrators would recite passages from people who were there, and the theme would swell, fade and disappear, but what we remember are the images. Not the words, we default instead to the ancient vision centers there in the back of the brain. You don’t need to explain anything to those vision centers. It gets it automatically (which is why it is so easy to fool us with trick photography–the vision center believes what it sees). Photos nail us. We have no defense. And I just wrote a couple hundred words trying to say that.
This is why I’m mean to photographers. Not to angels like the one in this picture, though. They can melt your heart.
“A girl dressed as an angel walks home after marching in the annual Easter procession during traditional Holy Week festivities in Ouro Preto, Brazil.” (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)