BUSY IN BRISTOW: Photo Perfect- Is Digital Better Than Print

| November 23, 2014 | 0 Comments | Busy in Bristow

busyinbristow-1The other day, I was looking for a photograph of my kids with an old family friend because she’s moving to California, and we were all gathering Friday evening to say our goodbyes.

I eventually found a photo to give her: looking for that one loose photo in a drawerful of others took about an hour, but it was time well spent because we got to revel in the past and laugh with our now- tweens showing them pictures of their earlier incarnations: fat-cheeked babies, half-clad toddlers.

I’ve talked with some parents who worry about the digital images of their children floating around in Cyberspace, and I worry too, but I admit that my naïve yet hopeful faith in humanity and my impulsive yet well-intentioned urge to share photos usually outweighs my concern.

I have a friend whose solution is to share – with a very narrow audience – her daughter’s firsts on the iCloud, and I think that’s a happy medium. After all, she’s in Texas, and this way, we’re all connected to them in a way we couldn’t have been with a single photo being sent our way through snail mail here and there.

Ever since I got my iPhone three years ago, I stopped taking pictures on the digital camera and – like most people – started taking photos of my kids, yes, but also of my trips to Costco when something amusing happened that I felt compelled to share with my Facebook fandom. 1,700 pictures later, I can’t take any more photos because my storage is full, and I’m still unsure whether the pumpkin patch pictures from 2013 ever got saved on One Drive so they’re taking up space of my phone.

Do you remember the excitement of waiting for a roll of film to get developed? I used Clark Laboratories, one of the mail photo centers, and when the bulky package arrived in my mail box, I’d rush into the house, call everyone to gather around, and then we’d flip through the photos.

Of course, there were always the duds. “Nice picture of the wall!” Husband would say to me, and we’d chuckle at it, accept it as a part of life and move on to the next bona fide print photo.

Moving from 35mm film to digital photography was a big shift for me. All of a sudden, I had the power to delete images, which meant I also had the freedom to take numerous shots of the same pose in my quest for perfection. I hated to erase any of them – and I still do, which helps to explain why I have 1,700 photos on my phone – but my kids have no problem looking back and forth between two practically identical photos and finding the flaw in one.

The censoring of flaws, the pursuit of perfection, the brilliance of speed, ease, convenience. And I don’t have to store all those photo boxes. Life’s so good now.

I used to scrapbook – the old fashioned way, even. Entire books devoted to each child’s firsts. I’m glad I wasn’t a Facebook addict when it first became popular and Youngest Daughter was still in diapers. There’s something primal and private about baby-dom, and I’m glad I was never tempted to post those early buds of our family’s growth.

Recently, a few of my work acquaintances have commented on how fast my kids are growing up and how much they enjoy seeing the children’s different personalities. For the first few seconds after someone says this, I’m always surprised – as if those faceless friends who haven’t “liked” my photos or commented on them haven’t seen them either.

Uploading photos into albums on Facebook is so much faster and easier than sitting down to scrapbook.

But why doesn’t our family gather around the computer to click through photos the way we looked through the old stacks in that box the other night and the way they beg to page through the scrapbooks?

Is it because we’re not looking for any specific photo to share with anyone in particular as a result of having shared every moment of our private lives with everyone we know? Or is it because we’ve already seen these images so many times – pasted on our lock screens and wallpapers, parading on slideshow as our computers “sleep,” flipping through our phones when we’re bored waiting in line – that seeing flashbacks of the past is no longer that singular treat it once was?

I’m not sure how to pinpoint my discomfort, but I do know I’m nostalgic for the way things were.

I simply loved the virginal anticipation of seeing photos for the first time, of the past revealing itself days – weeks – months after it happened. I think I valued those photos more because I had to wait for them. I think I value them more now because they’re an artifact unlike the image on the screen that I just can’t process, similarly, with my senses.

So why don’t we gather around the computer and click through photos the way we looked through the old stacks in my photo drawer the other night?

I wonder if the way I’m feeling now about photos is how people felt about nature when they moved off the horse’s saddle into the driver’s seat of a car. I wonder if – in addition to the benefits of getting exercise and reducing their carbon footprint – that’s why so many people today are returning to bicycles.

In spite of the brilliance of speed, ease, and convenience, I guess there’s just more we can notice and see when we put a little more work into what we’re doing and slow down to enjoy the ride.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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