“Sometimes when you’ve taken a photograph you are totally thrilled with, you feel like you are on the brink of discovering something totally amazing, like one of life’s secrets.”
This is a post about a book. On the last page there is a photograph of a nuclear explosion, and this quote.
Photography is undeniably powerful. I’m still trying to work out just how powerful it is, and why such a small machine can produce objects which can change the world. I think it might be because it is the only thing on the planet which allows us to time-travel.
The problem with photography, though, is that it cannot create fairytales. There is nothing magic about the process which produces the images. It allows us to do the one thing we thought we would never be able to do – capture time and preserve it – and that is where its enchantment ends. You cannot photograph a mountain if there is no mountain to photograph. You cannot photograph a dream, because it does not exist.
But, you see, there is one exception to the rule. His name is Tim Walker.
Oh I know it’s all been said before. But, truly, if someone discovered tomorrow that Walker’s photographs were created with fairydust I would not be surprised. The fact that I know they are not, and not a single one of his images is in any way digitally altered, is the most inspiring thing about them.
Walker’s work proves to me that anything is possible. The worlds which I thought could exist only in my head can be made palpable, can be created in this existence, and can be captured in photographs. It makes me believe that, and so it makes me look at this planet in a different way.
The truth is that I live in my own enchanted world. I recognised it, a little, when I first took off my shoes. The earth sings through my soles. When I pushed my way through the branches into the dappled light of the forest last week, out of breath from running because dinner was almost ready and the light was too beautiful to let fade, it was Walker’s world which I stepped into.
The lake water had been turned bottle green by the leaves and the liquid gold light. On the hill the grasses were up to my knees, and a soft carpet of moss had massed on every available branch. I had been gone less than two weeks.
This was a return which reminded me that life’s best-kept secret is the world around us. My powerful box, which cannot do magic, recorded my wanderings. And then, after dinner, I went to my room and read this book, which I bought last week. Tim Walker is the worst secret-keeper in the world.