For a photography aficionado, there is nothing quite so thrilling as looking at contact sheets. It is like reading a diary, delving into private realms that were not meant for public consumption. Like the old drafts of a novel or the prior recordings before the master tape, the contact sheet tells the story of how it happened—how we got to this place. It is a narrative all its own, one that few will ever know, unless the photographer blesses us with a view.
Then, what we see is magical: that heart-stopping, breathtaking moment like in the theater when an actor breaks the fourth wall. It is an acknowledgement of the very construction of it all: the recognition that everything we see has a history and a reality that we rarely ever know. The contact sheet seduces with what it reveals—all that has been hidden from our sight now appears.
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Photo: Contact Sheet featuring MONTGOMERY- MARCH 25: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. seen close from rear, speaking in front of 25,000 civil rights marchers, at conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery march in front of Alabama state capital building on March 25, 1965. In Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Stephen Somerstein/Getty Images)