OK so if a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a picture untaken worth? This brisk but captivating collection answers that just question. In thoughtful, short vignettes accomplished photographers recall That Unsnapped Moment in their careers or lives. This book reports on how a photo that never happened occupies the imagination, how it is developed by memory, and rendered in writing. There is some magical imagery and sentence-ing in these collections and it's probably magical because it reminds us that any picture that presumes to capture the "now" becomes instantly elegiac (see Instagram, which fetishizes that transformation). So the perfectly composed moment remembered through the lens of relinquishment becomes even more haunted. It's also fascinating to browse through all the reasons that seasoned photographers miss or choose to miss the perfect shot. I was surprised how different all the disclosures are from each other, and yet how touchingly personal, whether an author is attending the birth of his child or chasing news in Syria.
The writing of some of these compact, punchy essays is so evocative I am encouraged to check out the work of these photographers to see if their snapped photos match the keeness of their observations. Here is Laurel Nagadate: "There is a beauty in not being enough. Sometimes, photographs live in our hearts as unborn ghosts and we survive not because their shadows find a permanence there, but because that thing that is larger than us, larger than the things we can point to, remember, and claim, escorts us from dark into light, we emerge from the flames with no one in our arms, and we never unpack the camera." This collection is a potent tribute to not unpacking the camera but taking the moment anyway. Highly recommended if you take photography or memory at all seriously.