I took so many pictures when I was a young teen. I had boxes of photographs from disposable cameras with photos of things that I didn’t even remember.
But I struggle to remember to take pictures as an adult.
With cameras built into most cell phones, it should be easier to snap a picture of almost any moment in my life, yet the majority of the pictures on my phone consist of parking spaces I need to remember or images of that water stain I need to tell my landlord about. Pictures that are for practical purposes but have no emotional meaning for me.
The camera has become ubiquitous and thus invisible. Back when I had to go out and buy a disposable camera, I was aware that something special was coming up. Carrying it around with me while out with friends or on a vacation helped me remember to put the view finder up to my eye periodically and press the button.
Now, I rarely think about my camera.
Maybe that’s just me. I’m not a photographer. Photography requires a certain mindset, I mindset that steps out of a moment long enough to take a picture of it. Photography has always struck me as somewhat disruptive to inundating myself in what’s happening.
But I want it to be me. When I see pictures that others have taken, I love the way they take me back. I love the way they give me access to people and things I can’t physically return to.
I have a friend who takes tons of photos. And seeing our happy, sometimes drunk, but always smiling faces in the pictures reminds me of the magic of those moments in a way that memory alone can’t. Thanks to her, I have a stockpile of mementos of our time together, and I treasure them.
But were you to look through my photo albums, it would seem as though she were my only friend because I and my other friends never think to take pictures together with our ever-present, ever-ready cameras.
This past week, my partner and I were on vacation, and I made a concerted effort to remember to demand a few selfies with him throughout our site-seeing adventures. It’s the first step in my mid-year’s resolution to start documenting the people and times in my life more.
Life is fragile, and the blissful moments fly by so quickly. But pictures freeze those moments, just a little bit, providing a memory-portal to help me travel back for a visit.