Photographs have been a big part of my adult life. I’ve always had lots of framed blow-ups of family members, including pets, decorating my house. I also loved making large, artistic photo montages of major family events, like weddings , Bar Mitzvahs, a 90th birthday party, and special trips. These are also scattered through my home.
My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah Montage, January, 1998
In addition, I made giant family photo albums documenting everyone’s lives – my mother’s, mine before kids, and my children’s up to 2002. I even made one for my ex-husband after he died. I wanted my kids to have a photographic biography of his life, and of theirs with him. I have separate albums for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, my second wedding, to Tom, and one for two special canal boat trips we took through the English countryside.
Photos are a different kind of commodity today. My relationship to photos changed when I started using my phone as my primary camera. Now photos are more about sharing something I‘m seeing or doing with friends and family. Something to text or email to say, “Hey! Look at this!” I can shop with my daughter in LA when we send each other photos of items we’re thinking about buying. I can often get real time advice from her while she’s 3000 miles away.
This is wonderful. You can share photos of your trip with friends the minute you get home. You don’t have to wait to get photos back from the printer and then make a slide show or a photo album. On the other hand, I took so many photos on our last big trip (three weeks in France, including one week in Paris), that only a few people have actually seen them all. I printed a few artsy photos for my wall, but I’ve never culled them all down into a manageable unit for showing. So, in a way, that trip has been lost to me. I can’t readily access specific memories or highlights of the trip. And it has never been fully shared.
Montage of Canal Boat Trip in England With Tom
I used to carry mini photo albums in my purse. That way I could easily show people my favorite recent pictures of my kids, my husband, my dogs or a favorite trip. And in the order I want to show them. Now, sharing photos can be an awkward ordeal. You have to flip through massive numbers of photos, frantically trying to remember where to find the ones you want. It can be embarrassing to keep someone waiting patiently as you go through the “Now, where is that damned photo” dance.
It’s also hard to show different photos that didn’t happen to be taken at the same time. Because they are in a totally different place. You have to find one group and then search again for the other. Nowadays, a photographic memory means being able to remember where all your photos are in your phone!
Basically, I have more photos now but less access to the ones I want at any given time. I’m drowning in photos, but they’re much less a part of my daily life. I’ve only added one framed photo to my house in the last several years. And the task of organizing my photos into subject albums seems overwhelming.
So I’m left longing for the good old days, when I didn’t have thousands of pictures with me, on my phone, 24/7. But I had more meaningful pictures in my home and in my life, 24/7.