I have around 55,000 images in my picture library. If I assume that around 50% are work related that leaves 22,500 personal images taken since I got my first digital camera back in 2002. Forgive my shaky mental arithmetic but that works out at about 2,500 per year, or just over 200 per month on average… that actually feels quite reasonable, especially when I consider that I took 360 pictures on our recent holiday in Cape Verde. However, it would be an exhorbitant and quite impossible number if I was still using a film camera – imagine the cost in films, developing, postage or bus fare.
I guess that I could be considered a hard core user when it comes to my photography habit. Strangely enough I am often the only person with a camera at many social occasions, although increasingly less so these days. I feel bereft if I leave the house without at least one camera and am convinced that I will miss a golden opportunity – that once in a lifetime shot. Indeed it is a mantra and firm belief of mine that good photography is as much about opportunity as it is about knowing your way around a camera. Quite simply, it’s often about being in the right place at the right time WITH YOUR CAMERA AT THE READY. But I’ll save that lecture for another blog and endeavour to keep on topic, which, in case it’s not yet apparent, is why do we take so many photographs (some of us admittedly more than others)? I’m excluding professional photographers, myself included and have my personal hat on.
The affordability and accessibility of digital photography has completely changed the way we take photographs and enjoy them. Photography is no longer confined to special occasions and holidays but is a part of our everyday life – a picture snapped on a mobile phone is uploaded onto Facebook in seconds for thousands to view and enjoy. When did someone last show you a dog eared photo of their beloved child or pet from a wallet? I’ll bet it was displayed on a phone or IPOD.
The digital age has changed our relationship with photography but I don’t believe that the underlying emotional need has altered. We just do more of it for the same reason – and for me that is to freeze a moment in time, capture it and make it into something more tangible than a fleeting memory. Equally as important is the need to then share that moment with others. And as time goes by, those images of moments that were important enough to us to photograph become increasingly more treasured and special, because the memories fade and cannot possibly retain all the details.
The collection of photographs shown here are all taken from my childhood and represent just about all the pictures of me upto the age of about twelve. Baby photographs are conspicuous in their absence – my mother died when I was around 9 weeks old and photography probably wasn’t top of mind for my poor dad. Despite that I am still struck by how few images there are, but this is probably not that unusual for the era (1965-1977). After this period I know there are many more photographs still in my dad’s possession – he was a bit of a gadget fiend and was (and still is) a keen photographer. But this handful of pictures is extremely valuable to me – I see things I couldn’t possibly remember and without photography those details would be lost forever. The picture of my mum is one of only 3 that I have, sadly there are none of her with me. What I also find interesting is how much the line blurs between what we think we remember and what we are actually remembering from photographs. Our memories of smells and how things felt are often more accurate than of things we saw. I can remember how the big old sofa in the living room felt both velvety and rough and had soft gold fringes around the cushions but I can’t remember sitting on it with my brothers and a ball bigger than me!
By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!