This picture is from a recent trip to Chichen Itza in Mexico; I am the one in the photo and my fiance is the photographer.
I took a lot of pictures at Chichen Itza, almost as many as if I were documenting the site. I took closeups of carvings as well as contextual shots, and then of course I have the pictures of me in the site. These pictures serve as proof of my trip to Chichen Itza, as you can see, there I am next to the pyramid, giving you a sense of the pyramid's size. Thousands of people visited the pyramid that day, yet this photo purposefully shows me alone, emphasizing my individual experience at the site. It helps further remove the picture from the everyday world, and instead shows an idealized image of me alone. I have appropriated the pyramid, an exotic image of an imagined precolonial world, by capturing it on film and asserting ownership over it.
This photograph is a representation in miniature, a reference point for the narrative of my life. It is also one of a series of photographs that are organized by the order in which they were taken. When you come back from a week-long trip, people inevitably ask, "how was it" , or maybe they skip that and go right to "did you take picutures?" Rarely did I talk about the trip as a whole without using the series of pictures to tell my story. "This is when we first arrived," and "this is when we went to Chichen Itza," etc. Each frame invokes a commentary, and their chronological presentation is essential to anchoring the narrative in time. We can visualize our occupation of another space represented by the pictures, which is made possible by our understanding of the passage of time. The story gives the photograph its authenticity, fleshing out the parts beyond its finite boundaries and filling in the remaining four senses that were not captured, but the photo and its boundaries can also exerts its power on the story. This photograph in particular can become an aesthetic scene divorced from its context as my desktop background; it references my trip to Mexico, but can also be ahistorical, as Stewart discusses, once perhaps it is categorized aesthetically.
One final point, the photo exists, whether I am talking about it or not, but it changes meaning depending on who is looking at it, and the context of their viewing, what Appadurai describes as the social life of things. Now it means something in a discussion of tourist productions, and can be associated with a new set of images that have been posted on this blog. It creates a new reference point for a narrative I can tell about taking this course, and its life will continue as its meaning is reshaped over time.