Above: Girl sitting on a jetty. Credit: Sasint.


For Baudrillard, at its most basic, the photograph offers evidence of a disappearance: the disappearance of the-thing-in-the-photo from one's field of view. Hence the photo is then, very usually, a trigger for nostalgia. (SOED: Regret or sentimental longing ... regretful or wistful memory or imagining of an earlier time.) The photo tends to induce nostalgia--whether it be marginal and slight, or severe. What makes a photo poignant or moving is its quality of having been sent-in-place of the real thing--for Baudrillard the real thing "hides behind" its photo-appearance. (Even if the subject is not gone away, as in the selfie, the moment itself is gone--it has become a memory, a moment in the past.) As Baudrillard explains: "every photographed object is merely the trace left by the disappearance of everything else ... the absence of the world, which is present in every detail, reinforced by every detail--like the absence of the subject [that is] reinforced by every feature of a face."

Like it or not, these are our "keywords" in photography: loss, longing, nostalgia, absence, trace...

(20 January 2019)