Archive for category Photographs

Words, Picture, and Music, Part 3

Oh, those old photographs.

  • Faded wedding photos
  • Ridiculous extra copies of professional school and activity photos of our daughter
  • Really bad vacation shots
  • Very unflattering photos
  • Blurry photos
  • Accidental shots of foot or car interior

Somehow I can’t get rid of these either. In the case of the first item, I should take the negatives and get them put on a disk, which I can then upload to my computer. I would see them then. I find looking through photo albums depressing somehow. I can’t bear to do it. Is it a sign of getting old?

And yet I love seeing certain individual photos. One irony of the digital age is that I look at these uploaded photos way more often than I ever looked at them placed in an album or tossed in a shoebox. About four years ago, I began a project of sorting through old snapshots, scanning, and uploading them. A tedious exercise, and sure enough, I ran out of energy for it about 5% of the way through. Nonetheless, I found some treasures. Here’s one:

My dad, and my daughter, 1989.

Every generation needs that photo. Here’s another:

Our grandmother can’t restrain me from attacking my cousin’s face.

The farther back in time we go, the fewer photos we have, and the more precious they become. With lightweight, automatic cameras, we began taking rolls and rolls of snapshots. We were still limited, however, by how much film we had and by how much it would cost to process. Now, we never have to worry about wasting a shot. We take pictures of stuff we might buy at the hardware store. With digital, there is no longer any such thing as “wasting a shot.”

So I keep this:

Um, not exactly in focus.

The story’s good. A few years back we were visited, several years in succession, by a mother bobcat who chose to raise her family near/in our backyard. Above are two of the cubs. But oh, wait…

One of a litter of four. Mostly in focus, soul successfully captured.

So why is the fuzzy photo still in my iPhoto library? Dunno. Maybe I really think the camera does capture the soul. And maybe I think that by discarding a photo of someone, I am murdering his or her spirit? That’s pretty dramatic, and pretty powerful, of me. Also, it doesn’t explain why I still have the accidental shots of car interior or foot, which I choose not to include here.

There may be no easy explanation. Pictures have a hold on us, and that’s just the way it is.


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