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August Fredrik Schagerström

This is a photograph that feels me with some kind of uneasiness. It was taken by August Fredrik Schagerström (January 20, 1851 – May 9, 1938). One of the early proponents of photography whose photographs have now became valuable documentary for his hometown Uppsala. After reviewing the composition, balance of light and shadow etc one may consider this to be a commendable work of black and white photography for an early amateur photographer. No, the uneasiness does not lie there. In any case this is not meant to be a critical note on August Fredrik Schagerström’s photography. I am not qualified for that. And, the mention of his name here is purely incidental.

My discomfort lies in the way the protagonists of this still drama appear to be in the photograph. Their faces are all hidden from us and their backs turned towards us. “So what,” you may ask, “the carriage was in motion and the photographer happened to be on the wrong side of the road.”

Well, my friend, that exactly is the point. The photograph all too easily gives away one very bitter truth about life. Don’t you see how often the world turns its face away from us exactly the same way? Suppose, you are crying in agony, for a pain that in all probability is skin deep. Don’t you see the world drives away from you just the same way, feigning your mere existence to be a piece of information it has long forgotten? The close ones you thought you knew for so long, turn their faces away from you. Everyone seems to be in a terrible hurry. They cannot be blamed for they have their own living to do. Do you happen to be on the wrong side of the road then? Or, does the road curve away from your way into the distance with you stranded in a blind alley?