noun \ˈsōl\: the spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever. -merriam webster
Native Americans, along with a number of other cultures, held (and some still hold) the belief that a photograph can steal your soul, locking it up in an emulsion of silver halide crystals. Pretty heavy stuff. Many think the idea is plain silly, I know I sure did. But, when I stopped and thought about the basic principles of how film works in conjunction with the basic principles of quantum physics, I started to see the concept in a whole new light. Here's why:
Quantum physics states that all matter, broken down to its fundamental essence, is energy. From the computer you're reading this on, to the chair you're sitting on, to our bodies, it's all energy bouncing around, emitting vibrations at various frequencies. Laws of physics also tells us that energy can't be created or destroyed. It can, however, be transferred between objects or systems. For example, when you eat a piece of fruit, the energy in the fruit is transferred to your body.
The film. When you're shooting on film, the film is absorbing photons (light) emanating off the subject/scene. The film is physically reacting with the energy coming from the subject and that energy has literally been consumed as part of the chemical reaction. An energetic piece of the moment has physically been transferred to and is imbedded in the film.
If the film absorbs the light, and the light includes a piece of the person’s energy, is the film capturing their soul? I believe the energy is there, but I don’t believe it's imprisoned in the film. Quite the contrary, I believe the process proliferates the energy. I believe when others view the photo, the subject's energy is retransmitted in a continuation of the original physical reaction, amplified with each viewer’s own life force as they become part of the equation.
A photograph doesn't steal your soul, it shares it and film does this in a uniquely beautiful, connected and magical way. It's is one of the many reasons why I love and shoot film.