Everyone has their stories about them. Their favourites, the ones they dislike, the exceptional ones that occupy a special place, the ones reviled and destroyed. Nearly everyone has one.

Some have gotten people into trouble while others win awards. Taking them is not allowed in certain areas and in other places, persons can’t help but take hundreds. Not sure what we are talking about yet? They can be naughty or nice. Some people will even sleep with one under their pillow.

They can bring smiles and tears and are present in almost every home. At times, they are destroyed, cut up and burned or thrown to the wind. There is a whole industry devoted to them and almost anyone can take one. No, we are not talking about drugs, but about a powerful social tool that can motivate people to take action and has done so in the past in major ways and continues to do so.

They speak. They remind you of the time you were ten and ran around wearing only shorts. Or a particular time when you were angry and everyone else was happy. They tell tales of drunken nights and tears at a funeral. Of the time you won and the time you ran away from a dog.

Some are seen across the world and many are shared to the world.  They have been used to bring down powerful people and raise others to prominence. They can be used for good or bad. There are some that inspire a sense of awe while others are so poor that no one wants them. Persons, professionals especially, vie to get the perfect one and a good one can be worth lots of money but they are also valuable in other ways. Some people even go as far as to steal ones of interest to them.

They can tell a lot about someone else and are used for many purposes. They are popular for attracting people to a place or telling the story of a tragedy or a special time in one’s life. Some are sold, reproduced and distributed widely. If looked after well, long after a person leaves, go away or dies, they remain. They are fragile but also enduring.

For most people to take one is a fun activity while for others it is a profession and they earn their livelihood taking many. They freeze everything; time, people, places, animals, things and smiles, tears and other moments, ordinary or special. Our favourites are the ones that remind us of birthdays and other celebrations, with family and friends all around. But we have others that we also like, because we take a lot of them.

The first permanent one was made in 1825 by a French inventor, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Since then they have come a long way. It has been said that they never lie but in recent times, technology has been developed, which can be used to manipulate them.

They tell a lot about a person, place or thing. In fact, so much so that one is said to be worth a thousand words! So… what’s your favourite Kodak moment? (thescene@stabroeknews.com)