Known and Unknown

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My husband and my daughter, 2014

I have many images of strangers in my back catalog of photos. Most were taken before the height of social media. Sometimes I’d take candid photos of strangers by accident:

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I was trying to capture my husband and daughter riding a fair ride that was sailing past me at high speed, and I took several pictures of other people on the ride before I timed the photo correctly.

I don’t know what to do about my photos with unknown subjects. I’ve thought about posting them on Facebook in the hope that the system’s facial recognition software will auto-tag the subjects, letting them know that the photo exists. I’ve hesitated to do this because I’m uncertain of the reaction this process could generate. People could be delighted to find a moment of the past that they thought was lost, but they might be creeped out by it.

To complicate matters, I respect the art of street photography and have enjoyed creating some images that do belong to that genre. I doubted that such images would ever be published, but now the world is saturated with digital publication, especially through social media. Publication is so omnipresent that one can more easily avoid leaving the house than publishing oneself.

The above photo of the two girls is one of my favorite photos of strangers. Those girls are probably in high school by now. If someone had a picture like that of my daughter in her younger years, I’d be thrilled to see it. Then again, I am somewhat fluent in the language of photos, so I wouldn’t be bothered if I were surprised with a photo taken by someone else. The world is now full of cameras. It is almost inevitable that there are images and footage of each one of us that we’ve yet to see.