Now there’s something that has changed.
If you’re older than my teenage daughter, you may remember when taking photos was a very different process than it is today. Like so many people now, I enjoy the convenience of taking pictures with my phone or my camera (which has many features I haven’t taken the time to learn). I’m happy that I can view my photos immediately, delete the ones I don’t like, and crop lots of others. I love not having to print (or pay for) them unless they have a physical destination. And I’m grateful to be able to send pictures so easily to friends and family.
It wasn’t always this way. During my time in France many years ago, my girlfriends and I took very few photos, the main reason being that it was expensive. Taking pictures was reserved for important moments and unusual, beautiful scenes. Of course, the whole year was full of both, but, being young, we didn’t realize that. However, one day, Alison took a snapshot of me in a presque everyday moment, looking out over our 4e à droit (is it à droit, or just droit?) apartment terrace at the beach and the Mediterranean Sea.
“Look at me, Jules,” she might have said. “If this comes out, I’ll give it to you and you can send it to your boyfriend back home.”
Which I did — in an envelope, through the mail.
He kept it, and what you see above is a scan of that photo — something neither of us could imagine at the time.
Technology has changed the way we take pictures and our ability to share them, and I wonder if, in the process, it’s made them somewhat less important. A picture captures a moment in time. With so many pictures being taken now, are we mélanger-ing the moments into one big blur that might be better recorded in a video? Or are we losing those moments in a sea of other, less important ones?
What hasn’t changed about la photographie are the moments. I have boxes containing hundreds of photos of my family, the best ones preserved in scrapbooks and albums, chronicling the years and telling a story. Now I keep them on a “device” — able to be modified or deleted.
I’m glad the moments they record can never be lost or changed.