As a child, every time I looked at photographs I tilted and turned them as much as I could to see around the edges, trying my best to view the scenes they displayed as if through the frames of a window. But no matter how hard I tried, I could never quite see the rest of a street or another part of a figure. Despite the best human efforts, it is often impossible to see beyond a certain edge to make a familiar sight of the unknown. Over the years, this tendency grew to become a habit that I confess I still often find myself repeating, particularly when the photographs trap a limited fragment of a more beautiful and verbally indescribable whole. Curiosity and interest drive the viewer to want to know and see more, as the pictures are like a few lines of dialogue that are overheard and spark the interest to hear the conversation in its entirety. However, the pictures do not tell a story, they allow instead a tantalizing glance at a tiny instant frozen in time. Given an unfamiliar photograph, it would be impossible for to deduce aspects such as the identity, personality, and memories of any people or even animals by simply viewing the pictures. Understanding of the subject matter is limited to the captured part or angle, which itself can be only an illusion if something in the photo had been disguised.
Though it can be said that a photograph captures movement, and because of that it illustrates life, the brief snapshot is only a moment cut out of the context of that life. It carries the memory of the subject only in one state, depicting a select few qualities out of those, which make up the entire person or object. It is no wonder that the ancient Egyptians used composite pose to communicate the memory of the people in their entirety, capturing them simultaneously in all moments of life instead one simple pose that lacks the permanence and depiction of the subject at all times and from all angles. It can even be argued that images such as those of civilizations who used less naturalism but more "permanent" poses created pictures that were even more real than an actual photograph, despite the photo's detail and incorporation of realism.
I know that habit will always cause me to continue trying to cheat reality and see what is beyond the end of the picture, as it is typical for humans to continue to strive for knowledge and discovery of the unknown, such as the mystery of what follows death. But perhaps that answer does not exist to the human eye just as the photograph ends and nothing further can be seen. But while a photograph may not explain the past, its description of the subject allows people to file and retrieve treasured memories that otherwise may have been tangled in the webs of aging memories, lost and forgotten.