Still, unstudied with some scheme, candid photos tell—or, rather, confess—wonderfully chance stories. That is, of course, for those of us who dawdle in that sort of thing. Who valorize half-moments, perceive poems in movie stills yet balk when asked to describe that same movie’s plot.

To see so much in so little, to compulsively portion the main attraction into morsel-sized payoffs, can grow tedious, and yet here we are: eternally a little elsewhere, making a point of missing the point. Like a troupe of enthusiastic slowpokes intent on facing our telescopes away from the action, persuaded by the windows in museums more so than the art, and always, as if by habit, imparting narrative to a stranger’s candid moment; fictionalizing her private breath before she blinks once, turns on, and designs herself. Before she dips her chin and tenses into, by virtue of a photo’s invention, someone counterfeit: how she’d like to be perceived. Sexy, assured, refusing. Capable of filleting you with her half-grin. In deep revel. Teenaged and impatient. Happy, even.

-From Durga Chew-Bose’s great essay ‘Things That Ordinary People Wouldn’t Do: To Die For at 20′


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