Monday, July 20, 2015

The Changing Nature of Photographs

I love taking pictures and videos, and my iPhone is a permanent fixture in my hand because of that. I come by it naturally - growing up, my father was never without a camera in his hand and in our face.  Still camera images exist of all trips, milestones and occasions. The video camera was like an extra guest at all family events, and this was before it was the size of your palm. But he was onto something, because watching the videos that he made, and flipping though the albums of images of my sister's and my childhood is a favorite pastime of our family - and something our kids have grown to love doing as well. Seeing us when we were their age, or watching our wedding videos and seeing family members appear on TV makes them giggle non-stop.

If - knock on wood - anything ever happened to our family home, we knew that the first thing to retrieve was those albums - all the memories they contained are infinitely more priceless than any other object we owned. And I am at the point now of not knowing if the memories that I keep in my head are in fact my own or from examining those images and watching those videos year after year.

When leaving for camp, or one of my trips out West or to Israel, or even when I studied abroad in Spain my junior year in college, I spent tons of money purchasing film, developing rolls and reliving moments. You never knew what image you had captured, if all eyes were open, if someone had stolen your camera and taken an image without letting you know. Half of the fun of those trips was getting your pictures - doubles obviously so you could trade with friends - back from being developed, and we would sit often in the parking lot or store itself to flip through them immediately.

Since having Rebecca, and now Lila too, I take - at least - ten pictures a day. The most mundane moments have been deemed photo-worthy now that cameras are so easily accessible and I am certainly guilty of oversharing these on Facebook or Instagram. I send pictures to my parents and sister of the girls almost daily, and videos with increasing reckless abandon as well.


I hardly have any photos printed or framed. We've never put any of the videos I capture on my iPhone on the television. And other than Rebecca's Welcome Book or the one from her first year of life (and I'll pat my own back for even getting those done), I don't have anything filled with the digital images I've taken for my girls to look through. I have a few hard copies printed every few months or so to give to family members, per pointed requests from them, but otherwise, they exist on my iPhone. Or - even less accessible - in "the cloud..."

We do look through my phone from time to time at old pics or videos and laugh, and when I take the time to bust out our Canon DSLR for special events I am better about uploading the images to the computer, but without the constraints of a 24-exposure roll of film (or the even better 36!), I am absolutely still guilty of overshooting. This then makes culling through and choosing favorites that much more of a chore, and one that gets pushed back and back until I have time (which - newsflash - is never).

I realized this weekend as I re-watched this amazing video of Rebecca and Lila on the beach in Margate that while photos and videos have become  a constant part of our every day, they are that much less special, which is bittersweet. So I'm going to make a point to go back to my family roots - to make the digital books so that we can reminisce together, even when my phone is out of juice or we can't access the cloud. And this time with the added benefit of them being stored there, in case anything does ever happen to them. Wish me luck... and the stamina I'll need to cull through the now 5,000 images on my phone...

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