- January 12, 2015
- Posted by: Sharon Greenthal
- Category: family
Along with the zillions of other things that computers have changed and redesigned in our lives, one of the most pervasive is the art of the photograph. Once upon a time, the process of taking, developing, labeling and archiving photos was a labor-intensive and tactile process. There was some mystery to it all – we didn’t know how the photos would turn out, whether we’d have memorable shots of meaningful events or dozens of blurry, useless pictures that we’d wasted our money having developed, leaving us with only our mind’s eye to remember what we hoped to see in pictures for years to come.
Everyone knows someone who had a wedding that wasn’t photographed well, or a newborn baby that was unfortunately not memorialized because someone forgot to take off the lens cap. Digital cameras have revolutionized photography. Anyone with a minimal amount of computer skills can take, upload, crop, red-eye reduce, and otherwise manage their photos. There is no longer the wait for the developing, no negatives to bother with, no wasted money on shots of the backs of people’s heads.
If at first, I was resistant, having amassed a large collection of photo albums filled with pictures I cherished and paged through often, I am now a complete devotee of the digital picture.
There is a downside to all of this instant access, though. After uploading and transferring all of my photos from my pc to my iMac, I began to use the face recognition tool, which allows me to quickly identify the people in each picture. It’s a very convenient process and makes labeling photos not only easy but fun. However, after a while, I began to feel a sense of anxiety that I couldn’t quite identify at first. Was I staring at the computer screen too much? Did I misspell a name or two? No, what I finally realized was that along with the ease of looking at, identifying and cataloging the photos, the years of my life were flying by me at far too rapid a pace. I don’t mean my actual life – though that’s moving pretty quickly also – I mean the photos and the history and the moments that they represent.
I saw my children grow up in virtually hours, as I tagged them over and over in picture after picture. I saw my face morph from a young bride to a middle-aged mother of two adults. I was indignant that the iPhoto program didn’t recognize me in my wedding pictures…have I changed that much? Yes, I guess I have, but I don’t need to be reminded of it. I watched as my son was confused with my brother time and time again by the iPhoto tagger, which didn’t surprise me at all – the family resemblance is fairly strong. My daughter was unrecognizable as a middle schooler to the iPhoto program – she has also changed quite a bit since then. However, my husband was pretty much always recognized. Why is that? Is it the hair? Because that just doesn’t seem fair to me.
As I watched my life flashing before my eyes – literally – I saw the evolution of my family, my friends, and my home. Changes in decor, including furniture, paint color, accessories, and a completely new kitchen flew by. My face looked stressed and tired during the years that my father was ill, and I aged quite a bit in my forties, as I guess we all do. I saw my mother grow to resemble my grandmother far more than I’d ever noticed before.
Our friends changed and grew older, too – men lost their hair, while women changed their hair color – a lot. Fashion, of course, evolved – there’s nothing quite like a pair of mom jeans to define the early 90’s. I have literally hundreds of pictures of my children, and I still have hundreds of more prints of them and so many other people to scan into the computer, and it’s going to take me a while to get it all done. But that’s fine because I don’t want to be finished with this project anytime soon. Once I’ve completed all of the scanning, labeling, tagging and archiving, those photos will be saved and safe, which is the goal, of course – but as sentimental and, yes, sometimes melancholy as it makes me, the process is a chance to remember, to reflect, and, maybe most important of all, red-eye reduce.