A Love Letter to the Tangible
Tangible Photos and Prints
When I was a little girl, there were neither mobile phones or tablets, and there were just a handful of computers available. By the time I was in my early teens, the majority of these gadgets had just recently begun to arrive. I had a point-and-shoot film camera at the time. It is difficult to imagine that this occurred less than 20 years ago.
I’ve always had a passion for photography. My heart was originally grabbed by nature and landscapes, but as I got older, it changed to include pictures of the people I loved, their faces, and their emotions. I wanted to commit every detail about them to memory. I can still remember how excited I was to finish my roll of film and how the excitement grew as I hand-developed the roll in a darkroom. I spent hours in a dimly lit room with nothing but a red light to show me what I was doing. Faces on prints slowly emerging from a water basin were usually a moment of excitement. The images smelled wonderful, and I adored the process.
I would file these darkroom prints in a plastic binder. Some prints were horrible, but I kept them anyway. I kept every roll of developed film “just in case” I wanted to print the pictures again.
In 2016, tablets and smartphones, as well as cameras of different shapes, sizes, and brands, became more common. Whatever became of the printed image? In any case, it is essentially gone and is now just a curiosity for others.
The world appears to have changed in an instant. How did I age so quickly? Nowadays, it seems that everyone considers themselves to be photographers and has a fancy digital camera that they got for Christmas.
One moment, I was a teenager having fun with my camera, printing my photos, and putting them into albums. I have memory cards with thousands of pictures on them. I can keep shooting, catching anything that strikes my fancy. I’m not the only one who takes pictures all the time. Even my grandmother uses her phone to take photographs!
What a bizarre and amazing moment, yet the harsh reality of it all makes me sad. You no longer need to be picky about the images you take since you have access to almost endless amounts of data. The days of waiting are over. So even though I am “technically” surrounded by mountains of gorgeous, amazing pictures, I never actually see them because they get lost in a feed or on a computer hard drive.
I used to wait anxiously for my photos to develop in the darkroom, but now I can see them right away.
Time and I have a real love-hate relationship. I have a part of me that appreciates the advancement of technology and another part of me that longs for simpler times. I love the suspense, the thrill, and the effort spent painstakingly arranging photos in an album.
I am aware that everyone could and ought to print out images again, as I do, but we are victims of technology. In the modern world, we can download photos to our computers or phones right away and share them with everyone. Years go by, and all that is left are the memories waiting, imprisoned in a hard drive. Will they be printed or kept on a computer in the basement, out of sight of those who need and desire them the most?
Your pictures are both here and elsewhere at the same time. Hundreds of thousands of photographs have been taken by me over the course of nearly 30 years. The photographs taken in the earlier days of my career were on USBs, social networking sites, blogs, and photography websites, yet I still feel like I can’t find them anywhere. I am unable to reach out and touch them, to keep them near to my heart, to take them out of a cupboard and see that they are marked with the word “love,” or to travel back in time.
Yes, you can still print a little now and again, but not as much as I’m sure you used to—just a few here and there. I’m sure you are now so far behind that you doubt you will ever catch up. I want to be that photographer who helps because I love taking portraits, but I really love having real photos. Something for your children to hold. I want them back in your life, the lives of your kids, and ultimately the lives of their kids as well.
If you feel the same, let’s talk about how we can design a family portrait session of your dreams that aligns with your vision for how you’d like your great-grandchildren to experience this chapter of your life with your family. I’d love to be a part of it.