I wear glasses. Yes, I’ve tried contacts but my eyes are so misshapen that they just don’t stay put. I get the librarian jokes a lot. I don’t mind, I try to own the look. But glasses aren’t the only lenses I have spent my whole life behind.
I take an awful lot of pictures. Chronicling is my thang. Online albums, prints, photo books, I do all of the above. Always have, and always will, despite it taking up precious time that tends to be a hot commodity these days.
When did I find my passion for pictures? I got my first Fisher Price Camera, complete with Flash Cubes- when I was about 8. I took portraits of everyone in my family. There was a signature tilt to each shot, probably explainable by my lopsided vision and refusal to wear those giant plastic glasses because, well, vanity.
I was never without camera in junior high. We were only first learning that we could have a social life outside of our parents. We were tweens hanging out in basements, attics, music blaring and silliness ensuing. I wore braces, and bodysuits, and had a boyfriend named Brad. I recorded it all.
I always kept my camera handy in high school. Eating, drinking, meeting boys in the most random places, causing trouble- all on film. I don’t know why I felt the need to capture these moments, but they felt important, they were fun, and freeing, and I wanted to remember them forever. I don’t look at these photos that much, but given some of my fashion choices and my frizzy hair phase, maybe it would’ve been better if these formative years weren’t so well documented!
I’ve been following my children around with a camera for 9 years now. Every road trip, every dance party, every sunny day in the backyard. Every stage of toothless to baby teeth to toothless again to giant crooked smiles- locked in for eternity.
Why do I keep taking pictures? I’m not really one of those “remember when” types of people. I don’t wax poetic about the good old days, or dwell on the past and lament all the missed opportunities. But the memories are there if and when I need them. I don’t want to go back in time. I take pictures because I love my now. I feel gratitude toward everything life has gifted me and I don’t know what the future holds, but I know this moment is real, and it’s good, and just as I blog about my life as a working mom, I want to commit to the feelings I have when I see joy in my children’s faces, the mischief in their eyes, or be able to reflect on a tender kiss between my husband and his baby daughter when they don’t know I am watching. The lens sees it all, and will save it for me forever.
And now cameras are everywhere- who needs a point and shoot ever again?- and proof of every minute of every day can often be found on the Internet whether you want it that way or not. But it seems to have diluted all the magic that comes along with going to Fotomat or 1 Hour Photo and getting your roll developed. So many of us just haphazardly post a poorly composed, but highly edited rundown of our latest news on Facebook or Instagram or some ridiculous version of ourselves on Snapchat, and expect we’ll see it again this time next year on Timehop. Does anyone even order prints anymore?! I like social media and all, but it’s diluted the poignancy of why we started taking pictures in the first place.
Does anyone remember Fotomat?!
Even though I have scolded Gull for buying me new lenses for Valentine’s Day and our anniversary, he must recognize that chronicling is my passion. I still drag the camera everywhere- it won’t ever be permanently replaced by my cell phone. I still load the photos on my computer, delete the droopy eyes, the blurry frames, put them on Shutterfly for safe keeping, print the best of the bunch, put them in photo albums, and sometimes even caption the shots. I spend time on my photo books to celebrate birthdays or vacations. I display them on a shelf, I give them their due. Because they are my history, and even though each memory from my first crush to my wedding to my final baby’s birth feels like it happened just yesterday, there will come a day when it will have faded from my mind. My children, my grandchildren, one day will ask about our past, and I’ll be ready to show and tell.