Photo Essay: Locks


Sjaan McCargar, Volunteer Photographer

In the spring semester of 2020, I was lucky enough to take a class I enjoyed: photography. In that class we got to do many amazing projects, but one in particular stood out to me… my photo essay.

This was the last project of the semester. Leading up to this assignment, we got put into nationwide quarantine, which tore families, couples, friends and classmates apart. Throughout quarantine, people had to find a way to adapt to the new normal. I had to adapt. I let out my frustrations through art and one of the outlets was photography.

When Professor Rausch asked us to do a photo essay on whatever came to mind, my head circled. I had absolutely no idea of what to do. I did the only thing I could do: I took pictures.

Usually, when I begin to allow the camera to have a mind of its own, the emotions, stories and perspectives begin to shine through.

On a walk with my mom, we went on the TVA trails and decided to cross the Singing River Bridge Sidewalk. I already at this point had begun to take pictures of anything and everything I saw, and one thing I took a picture of was a lock.

I did not really think much of it until we kept on walking and still saw increased amounts of locks. Some were in groups, some put on with other wirings to hold them and others with carvings of names.

Without really thinking I began to allow the camera to take pictures, feeling the shutter of each frame.

When I got home and began to process the images, I realized what my pictures were trying to represent. Love, freedom, and hope.

When we think of locks on bridges, we think of the infamous ones in Paris. Where the bridge is so consumed by the locks it feels heavy and fragile, like it could break at any moment.

Yet the beauty is still there. The stories are still there.