I Took Pictures

It started as a quiet, overcast day that was perfect for nostalgia, contemplation and being content at home. I needed to rest my hands from yesterday’s outside work and was committed to doing less active tasks, like my “paring down” of photos.

My photos tell the progress of technology in “Kodak moments” starting with the ones I took with my box Brownie when I was a child. There aren’t very many of those because there were only 8 frames on a film and I was always lucky to get half that number of decent pictures. They were black and white.

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A black and white, old enough that it’s starting to look like a color photo.
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Kodachrome moment on Santa Catalina Island.

Kodachrome came next. They are square and all have a golden cast but they are in color. My wedding photos are in this category and they are a sorry collection of candid snapshots taken by one of my brothers. There are half a dozen 4×6’s and a couple 6×8’s. Today’s wedding photographers would have a good laugh, I’m sure, but they tell the story and my memory fills in the holes. I didn’t pay $1,000 for them and honestly, I’m not sorry about that.

We bought a good camera early in our marriage. It took good pictures and we about wore it out on our first child. Film was still the standard but now there were 36 frames on some of them. We mailed the rolls to far away companies to be developed and double prints were the marketing ploy. I am lightening the load by throwing most of the doubles away. I am not in many of these photos because I was behind the camera and there was no such thing as a “selfie” without going to a lot of trouble.

The second child came and there were still lots of photos, because the two of them were so cute together. Lots of those doubles come in handy as I am making photo books for each of them to remind them of how it was, who they were to me. When they started taking their own pictures, mine became somewhat fewer.

My brother was the first to get a digital camera. It seemed so expensive and complicated to me, but it wasn’t too long before we had one. We stopped getting our photos printed out, except on special occasions. My box of photos from the 1990’s was the last large collection.  Since then, very few events have warranted hard copy photos. The ones I have printed are either artistically worthy or for special projects.

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Only one of the horizontal surfaces covered with stacks of photos.

The day is done now. Every time I tackle this job, my room is littered with piles of pictures by categories, and the waste basket is full as well. I have stopped being chronological in my organization. When I look for a photo, I’m remembering a person or an event, not the year it took place. I have envelopes with the names of people, special places, memorable trips. It may sound morbid, but I’m only saving ones of myself that I would want shown at my funeral. Who, other than me, should get to choose how I’m remembered? Right.

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Here’s hoping this will help me find that one photo I’m looking for…

These days at this task always leave me flooded with memories, reliving the past and longing for the goodness of those times caught motionless on paper. It’s a strange feeling and not always comfortable because it has so much to say about the passage of time and mortality. I stop frequently and text a picture to my daughters, with my phone. Just sayin’… who would ever have thought it.

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I’m not going to say the cat helps. She doesn’t.

2 thoughts on “I Took Pictures

  1. Shirley, I admire your commitment to that huge, emotionally evocative project.

    Double prints came in handy when I was doing day care and wanted to share the photos I took with my day care kids’ parents. I have boxes of slides taken with a couple halfway decent 35mm SLR cameras that I used during the first two decades of my son’s life. Before that, somewhere, there are black and whites as well as faded color prints that I took with my Brownie box camera and a couple different Instamatics. I’m not sure I’ll ever organize them more than they already are.

    Nowadays, I’m lucky to get my digital photos sorted into albums to make finding particular shots easy to find. lol

    • I know, as hard as it is to organize hard copy photos, digital ones may easily be worse. I’m trying Google photos but I can’t even remember all the cloud storage places I’ve put things in, or the dead hard drives, oh my…

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