When my father died, we discovered thousands of photographs in a wardrobe at his house. Looking through these was not only a trip down memory lane but a literal snapshot of eighty years of family history.
Before digital photography, taking and developing photographs was a skilled and fairly expensive business. Films of 24 or 36 photographs were developed by experts; you couldn’t ‘see’ what photos you had taken before they were developed, and so photographs tended to be of special events. Birthdays, holidays and Christmas featured on these photographs alongside weddings, christenings and significant events (in our case, the arrival of pets!) Everyday momnets tended not to be captured as they are nowadays, and so a family’s history was crystallised into these ‘significant’ moments.
Nowadays, most of us have cameras on our phones and can take photos and videos at any time. We capture the ordinary as well as the ‘significant’ events, the silly moments as well as the special. Although the sheer wealth of material this generates will make it difficult for our descendants to work through this material in the way I sorted through my father’s collection of memories, it gives us a more balanced view of our lives.
Life is made up of more than memorable moments. It consists of more than special events and staged scenes (photoshoots of special occasions). It is made up of the ordinary and the mundane: children playing, learning to bake in Grandma’s kitchen, parents reading stories at bedtime. All of life is worth capturing: the sunrise on the way to work, the scenery which surrounds us daily, the splashing in puddles and building of snowmen.
I was amazed at how much I had forgotten of my childhood and how the photographs offered proof of who I was and what I had done (much of which I could no longer recollect.) Don’t wait for a special occasion to mark a moment. Capture the memories now and create your own record, for even the ordinary marks moments worth cherishing.