I am not much of a picture-taker, which I guess makes me kind of an oddity as a card-carrying Millenial. As a generation, we are obsessed with oversharing our lives with family, friends, and That One Guy I Met At That Party Ten Years Ago–and pictures, so much faster than explaining everything in a story, feature strongly into that world.
But even before those days…back, “Once upon a time…” when you still had to shoot pictures on actual film in an actual camera, and you had to wait until you got everything developed (which took actual time) before you could find out if your picture actually came out, I still was not a picture taker. Time has not changed me much.
I don’t know, I guess I’ve always been too busy being in the moment to remember to record it. In high school, I was involved in our drama program, and by my senior year, I was playing main roles in most of our shows. My parents came to every performance (only after I told that was what parents of the leads were supposed to do…) but they just came and watched the show. No camcorders (remember those!?), no cameras. Just my mom and dad. Sitting in the audience.
Somebody once told my father, “Your daughter is so talented and does all these things! Why don’t you record them?” And my dad said something very wise that I have taken to heart, “I would rather watch it once, and really experience her performance, and have the memory of that to carry with me, than to only ever see it through the lens of a camera.” So that has been my life–I have lived my experiences, but never through a camera lens.
Now, don’t get me wrong–I think people who take pictures are awesome. I love the cool photo montages they hang up on their walls and the great moments they capture, but truth be told, I just never remember. If I’m lucky, I get out my phone for five minutes, snap a few pictures, and figure I’m off the hook. Usually, I just mooch pictures from the collections of my photo-taking friends who plan and are mindful of things like that.
Nevertheless, as I’m getting older, I’m growing more fond of pictures. But not the million-pictures-on-my-phone kind, or the Snapchat story kind, but the actual, ink-to-special-paper, hang-on-your-wall kind. I don’t need a lot of pictures, just a few that remind me of really important seasons and people. I think I love the history of pictures. I have a picture collage on my dining room wall. I have pictures of Baby Me with my parents. I have pictures of the first time I talked my whole family into running a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving with me. I have a picture of Lily, the gentle mutt who helped my grandpa babysit me when I was tiny, and one of Gracie, the even kinder dog who I really consider “mine.” There is a picture of my grandmother when she was young. My story is there, in birthdays, and Christmases, and my baby brother’s graduation.
To me, photos (like so many things) are more about quality than quantity. I don’t need a DropBox with fifteen million photos I’ll never look at. I need fifteen I can look at when I’m eating breakfast and remember those happy times, those important people and places and times. My wall isn’t the fanciest or chicest photo collection, but it’s mine. There is history on that wall. My history. Evidence of where I come from. Evidence that I am here. And anchor to the past, and one I can tie the kite of my dreams to so it can soar.
Maybe that’s why pictures are starting to matter–I’m getting older and am starting to feel like I have a history. (For instance, I clearly remember things that happened twenty-five years ago. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO!!! This is NOT supposed to be a thing!) There is more to me and my story now that you might guess if I don’t tell you. Maybe the pictures are as much for me–to remind me of that history when I get weighted down in daily grind. It’s a good way to be. It’s good to have those memories.
And this is why I know people who like to take pictures when things happen to us…it gives me someone to mooch off of…