In this TED talk, David Griffin, photo director for National Geographic, displays a series of incredible images that demonstrate how photography connects us to each other and to the universe as a whole.

When I traveled to New Orleans earlier this year, I stayed up late one night (procrastinating on a paper) and looked through a series of old photos. While browsing, I suddenly, and for no apparent reason, had a sudden revelation. I realized I had been looking at photos in a very shallow and simplistic way.

I was looking at a picture of an area where a lot of people were out and about when I began thinking about how we are unable to “look” into the future, but can “look” at the past. I”m not referring to the creepy and baffling stuff astronomers are doing with high-powered telescopes, but through our use of everyday cameras. Each photo represents an event that occurred at a precise moment in time. There is no other evidence that this time existed other than the picture and the image we retain through our brain”s eye. Without a physical representation, how can we prove the moment exists? What is the past then? Simply a series of unobtainable memories?

We predominately preserve the past through memories and photos. Consequently, our personal photos have memories attached to them, which can spark many emotions on sight. Viewing photos that are not our own or are unfamiliar to us, can also stir up emotions, as well as altering our perspectives and concepts of reality. So the next time you look at a photo or take a photo, take an extra second to think about the totality of what you are looking at and what you are capturing.