What the photo doesn't show you


Rammang-Rammang, Maros                                                       

What the photo doesn't show you is the three people in the back of the boat: Frank, behind his iPhone’s camera; Katie, also on her iPhone; and the boatman, with one hand on the rudder of the boat’s outboard motor and the other clutching a kretek cigarette. It doesn’t explain what Frank is doing in Southwest Sulawesi, and it makes no reference to the conversation Katie and he have been avoiding since his arrival earlier that morning. It’s just a photo of a trip down a lazy river. The front of the wooden boat juts into the composition, a blue triangle dividing the photo like Trivial Pursuit pie; and beyond it is the silky water that reflects the mountains and clouds; then, there are the mountains and clouds themselves: a strip of greens and darker greens below a belt of grays and blacks. But what the photo doesn’t show you is that Katie is hardly paying attention to the scenery. The photo she has posted herself is receiving likes, and she is concentrated on answering the comments that are rolling in like the black clouds overhead; and the air smells of rain and cloves, but the photo has no sound or scent. No puttering engines. No chirping birds. The context of the photo is wholly dependent upon the viewer of the photo. For Katie’s lover, it means that she is almost free. For Frank’s Mom, it means that they are safe. And for me, one of the many viewers of the photo, it means: I wish I were there, but I’m not.


Los Angeles, California                                                       

What the photo doesn’t show you is the woman behind the camera—short, fierce, with curly blonde hair and hazel eyes. She graduated first in her class with a Bachelor’s degree from Yale, second in her class with a Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh, and now works as a barista in one of the city’s most well-known cafes, having abandoned her law career to follow her childhood passion: pornography. Click—I am fresh out of the shower and her new puppy has ambled up to lick my toes. Her phone was in her hand—a picture of a piebald pup licking my smiling, bearded face. But what the photo doesn’t show you is that her puppy will wander out her front door, later that day, and cross the road, and explore the smells along the sidewalks, escaping to a world that is outside the frames of out photos. She is free, truly free. But what the photo doesn’t show you is that which you don’t want to see.



Reykjavik, Iceland

 She works behind the counter of liquor store that his parents own, and hides in the corner of that store, away from the CCTV camera, where she can read Sylvia Plath in peach and check her phone when she feels the need (every other minute or so). Her mother drives a Mercedes, but she does not drive a Mercedes. She simply posts photos as if the car were her car, and longs to be in the South Pacific, where one of the random’s she follows has posted a photo of a silky river with a dense jungle behind the contours of a blue boat. She double-taps their photo and dreams of escaping to California, or to Paris, while Frank, her brother, is in Greece, posting photos of himself amidst the white ruins of the Acropolis. And some random in Los Angeles is posting a photo of a man with a dog, and she want to die of jealousy. She wants to die, in general. But she rings up a customer, instead—a pregnant woman who is buying “for herself”—and then checks how many likes she has received on the photo of her in her Mercedes Benz.



The Sonicare Experience