memories

PHOTOGRAPHING MEMORIES AND LETTING GO

Pooh.jpg

It is said that you can't take it with you. But that doesn't stop most of us from accumulating a whole lot of stuff over a lifetime. And associated with all that stuff are memories. Memories of a lifetime.

Nothing makes it clearer just how much stuff you have then when you move, or in my case, what I hope to be a final move. I've moved before and much of my stuff has followed and this frustrates me now, but explains why I still have so much stuff.

In the end, it comes down to decisions. Tough decisions that I've clearly put off before and most certainly have put off for the past 25 years in the Philadelphia house. What to keep, what to dispose of or donate, becomes the big question. 

One way I've come to terms with making the big decisions is to photograph my stuff, the objects that represent my life. Or at least the objects that represented the first 55 years. Note, I will not accumulate more stuff.

This is a photography blog, and I'm a photographer, so it may seem like this idea came naturally to me. It didn't. I have always been attracted to the physical object, but I've also spent the majority of my life capturing the physical object, first on film, and more recently, digitally, so now is the time to compromise. 

And compromise is the only way forward. To date, I've filled a dozen trash bags with more to fill. Some stuff is easy to let go of, for other stuff, a quick cell phone shot will suffice. For other items, a small studio set up and a proper photograph is the only way to truly do my stuff justice.

However, there will always be a few items that I can't replace with a photograph.

Which is probably why after photographing the stuffed Winnie the Pooh doll from my childhood, it went back in a box and has yet to be thrown out. Maybe some things are harder to part with than others.

I'd also caution against printing out all those photographs, because, well, you get the idea.

 

FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS

Backyard Astronaut in1994 taken with a Nikon N90 shot on Ilford HP5 Plus. I barely remember taking this photograph, but it has become one of my favorites.
Backyard Astronaut in1994 taken with a Nikon N90 shot on Ilford HP5 Plus. I barely remember taking this photograph, but it has become one of my favorites.
A coworker recently commented that I must have a ton of great photographs of my family, especially my son growing up. I started to wonder if that was true. Did I really document my family the same way that I photographed assignments around the world or even in my own backyard?

Nikon FM2 shot on Kodak Tri-X. There was a time when my family would not run or cover their faces when I pulled out the camera.
Nikon FM2 shot on Kodak Plus-X. There was a time when my family would not run or cover their faces when I pulled out the camera.
If you ask my family I think they would say that I didn't photograph enough. I would counter that they just didn't always see the final results. This became apparent to me recently when I was digging under the eaves in search of some old darkroom equipment for a pinhole photography project and came across dozens of boxes and binders full of negatives and slides.
WARNING: Don't go digging out those old slides and negatives unless you have hours to spare, because once you start going down memory lane, it's a long journey.
I also tried to rationalize that when the family is talking about missing photos, most often they are referring to formal portraits. And it is true that at some point my family just wasn't going to sit for portraits as I tested new lighting or posing techniques. Plus, I figured that I always had an out since there was the school pictures that documented each year thus leaving me with the much more prestigious job of documenting everyday life.

Scotland Vacation in 2004 taken with a Nikon D2H. Found this file on a CD-ROM backup.
Scotland Vacation in 2004 taken with a Nikon D2H. Found this file on a CD-ROM backup.
So looking back, how did I do?

Well for the answer to that question I'll refer to all those negatives and slides. Apparently I took more photos than I realized of my family and have taken great delight in converting them to digital and sharing, many for the first time. (Learn how I convert negatives and slides to digital files in my post, GRAB A LOUPE - A NEW YEAR WITH OLD NEGS). I also pulled out that collection of CD-ROMs that were at one time my digital backups, but over time and after some hard drive failures, had apparently become the primary files. Another word of caution, get those photos off those disks and back on hard drives with another copy in the cloud.

College Graduation 2013 with a  Nikon D3S. One of two frames I was able to get before I was told that was enough. Some things never change.
College Graduation in 2013 taken with a  Nikon D3S. One of two frames I was able to grab before I was told that was enough. Some things never change.
If your family is giving you grief about not photographing enough of... well the family, ask yourself if perhaps what they are really asking is to just see the results. I'm not talking about sharing what's on the back of your camera, handing them your cell phone or even what's plastered all over social media. I'm talking about making a print, putting it in a frame and hanging it on a wall or placing it on a table. Or if you are really ready to share, then why not upload your files to a service that will make 4x6 inch prints for under 15 cents each that you can then put in an album. Remember those.

That's what memories are made of. Or what memories can still be made of.

EVERY PHOTO COUNTS

Spent the entire afternoon yesterday photographing awards presentations as my departing boss made his way around the building thanking employees for the work they have done.

It is easy to forget that while these photographs (grip-and-grins) get a bad rap and may never make it to your portfolio or website, they are important to the person being recognized. In fact, I have a photograph shot by a Navy photographer of me as a ten-year-old standing with my grandfather during his retirement ceremony from the Naval Air Development Center in Willow Grove, Pa. That photo reminds me daily to give my best during every photo assignment both big and small.

I was reminded of that yesterday as I was standing around between presentations, an employee got my attention and asked if I thought it would be okay if the admiral signed something for her after the ceremony. I told her I didn't think it would be a problem and that is when she produced a photograph I had taken of her and the Admiral in 2009 during a cake cutting to celebrate the Navy's 234th birthday.

Every photo counts!