Above: A stock photograph included in a recent changes to terms-and-conditions email from HSBC. Photo: Uncredited photographer.

Moving In

Whoever edits the stock photography for HSBC customer communications has selected a rather odd choice for an image to go along with a recent email to all account holders concerning a number of minor changes to banking terms-and-conditions--not a spam email as such, just a boring email clarifying a number of minor tweaks.

As a technique for brightening up this dull email, HSBC have included a stock photo--nothing strange in that. But the choice of image is a little jarring. The photo selected (above) is a stock photo intended to be useful around the topic "moving home" a subject matter which is not actually mentioned at all in the HSBC email--there is nothing in it to do with mortgages, or property insurance, etc.

My encounter with the photo begins with opening an email from my bankers. I open it and the photo immediately seems to suggest an email about mortgages or housing insurance. As I read down through the deathly-dull text I see soon enough that this is not the case, and am thus left to re-visit the image: perhaps it is not a stock photo about "moving in" but actually something else?

Here's how I interpret or "read" the visual narrative: a heterosexual couple are happy. They are happy that they have each other. They have nearly all their possessions in boxes, but they are happy because the one thing that does matter in life above all else--far above domestic possessions--is that they have found love. The challenges of life are many (such as the requirement to soon be unpacking everything and getting on with moving in to the new house), but as a couple together, with the love and support of the other one, these challenges will be easy to take on and overcome.

For now it is time to have a giggle and a cuddle lying on the bare-tiled-floor: getting a short rest after the humping of the boxes into the empty place. It is a well-earned respite before the process of unpacking begins. The couple are really quite vulnerable at this moment--with anything they might need still packed away.

The unpacking will start soon enough and life will recommence--presently life will take on new routines and new familiarities, and the couple will be returned to the quotidian. Just for now, ordinary life is held in abeyance as the two pause for a few minutes; a few minutes in which the anxieties that are natural around the time of moving can be shared in a spirit of good-humour and enjoyment.

(24 July 2018)