When Photographs Become Historical

As my photography career starts to enter its teenage years, one of fascinations with my own work that happens more and more frequently is observing the moment when a particular photograph turns historical.

Turning historical to me indicates the moment in time when I no long can go back and re-photograph something without it being majorly different. Being someone who often thinks that his photography’s target audience isn’t even born yet, this is possible one of the most important moments in every photograph I take.

Some photographs turn historical pretty much the moment they are exposed, such as a building fire.

Applewood Knoll Apartment Fire, Duluth, Minnesota, April 2015

Most aren’t that quick, but the moment the photographs turns historical is highly predictable predicable. This is partially why I have many photographs taken of construction sites, and of locations that I have read will soon be razed for new development. They turn quick and provide a nice quick fix for seeing my photographs mature.

Others, such a a building or a skyline, might take many years or decade before something major enough changes to make them historical. In the world of landscape photography events such as the Tettegouche Arch or Old Man Of The Mountain collapses may be needed.

More rarely though is when the idea or concept behind a photo is the one to fall. This happened to me recently and completely took me surprise.

Late in 2013 I casually snapped a photograph of a logging truck passing under a sky walk in downtown Duluth. Having spent a decade working in the downtown, seeing fully loaded logging trucks pass through was a common sight, and one that I always kind of took notice too. Seems strange that they would be choosing the slow city traffic when a perfectly good interstate freeway was literally just below them in the tunnels running under the town.

Anyways, never gave it much deeper though. But the past few weeks as I’ve been crawling through some negatives for stuff to put in my galleries, I kept thinking about the photograph of the logging truck that I have never scanned. I kept not scanning it until last weekend when I read the following Facebook post by the Duluth mayor.

Don Ness Truck Notice

Just like that, the photographs that has been bugging me to scan it has turned historical. And how it came to be (politics) and how it will cease to be (politics) was something I never would have foreseen.

So without further ado, lets welcome this photo to the historical club.

Logging Truck on Superior Street, Duluth, Minnesota, November 2013

*If you are wondering what Gordon Ramsay is involved, The Duluth Police Chief happens to share the same name as the celebrity chef. No improperly prepared risotto involved what soever.