My deeply analog orientated brother-in-law walked into the studio today and watched bemused as images were digitized across the computer screens, pixels healing, colors adjusting. He commented that it reminded him of Soviet propaganda days when those who had fallen out of favor were “disappeared” from official photographs.

It got me thinking about the power of published images, and the seemingly irresistible pressure to manipulate them for unwritten agendas.

Yet in the end the manipulated is never quite as powerful as the decisive moment perfectly seized.

There are public images which stay with us. The mushroom cloud of atomic bombs. The Fabulous Four. Marilyn Monroe’s skirt blowing. Che Guevara and his defiant cigar. Mao Tse Tung’s shining face. New York’s Twin Towers crumbling. Obama’s inauguration.

We respond, across cultures and linguistics, to an international visual language. Not everyone reacts the same way to the same image, but iconic images force their way into our shared communication and perceptions nonetheless. There are photographs which make some of us uncomfortable, there are those which make us feel sad, there are those which us feel elated.

And then there are our private favorites – evocative, sometimes forgotten but not quite. Photographs are the modern magical symbols. Flutter or tempest, every photographer who shows his or her images to the public has a butterfly wing effect on what is happening in the world. For the effect to soothe or stir, the photographer must be taken by the picture.

There is no perfect camera, there is no perfect lens, no perfect technique. There is only the perfect moment, and the perfect heart for it.