People, places, and things...

...I wish I would have taken more pictures of.

Friends.  Especially because I sometimes don't even remember their last name.  How would a picture help?  My mom religiously wrote on the back of every photo where it was taken, when, and who was in each shot.  That's one of the best habits she instilled in me because pictures are forever, but memory is infinitely fallible over even the shortest time.

Girls I was involved with.  Same here.  I have precisely zero images (let alone naked pictures) of some girls I dated.  In my mind I remember what some of them look like, but I don't know if I'd recognize them again if I saw them in many cases.

My parents.  I have more pictures with my dad's thumb in them than of him full-frame.  Dad are apparently always behind the camera.  Once I became one myself, I discovered that this seems to be one of my roles.

Myself.  Since I bought Dani this camera five years ago, we've taken fifty-one thousand pictures on it (yes, seriously.  I am not making this up).  I've taken about 95% of those.  I'm just like my dad in a lot of ways, and this is one of them.  There's scant record of what I look like outside of yearly self-portraits in our Halloween costumes.

Places I played as a child.  I often try to tell stories about a neat spot where we played in the woods or the field full of used tires or the "fort" we built, but those things are gone now, and it takes the proverbial thousand words to communicate the context of my nostalgia.

Houses.  Photos taken on, say, xmas morning manage to capture a piece of a room, but even those bits of background are loaded with memories of kitchen cabinets I crawled in as a child or the stairs I ran Hot Wheels tracks down.  Without the pictures to reconstruct these homes, all I have is a texture-mapped floor-plan in my head.

My dorm rooms.  Same again.  I see the posters of the movies that meant something to me at the time, the cds of the bands whose music was driving my early attempts on guitar, the textbooks and novels that were shaping my thinking and understanding of life.

Toys I had when I was a kid.  It's not so much that I have a nostalgic materialism; it's that these pieces of plastic were the substrate through which my imagination issued forth narratives full of conflict and character.  When I see artifacts that once held a starring role in these fantasies, stories come back to me that were transcribed nowhere but in the unexplored archives of my mind.

Before I change anything.  Before I repaint, remodel, rewire, rearrange, reroute, etc., I take pictures from every angle.  It's useful in making comparisons and backtracking if something went wrong.  It's useful for remembering how the parts fit together once you've taken them apart.  More importantly, my projects often erase the features of my past.  Renovations cover over the backdrop of the scenes in one's life.  I look back at pictures and remember not just the colors of the walls, but what events they served as set pieces for.

These days I take pictures of everything.  I look like Peter Parker with a camera perpetually slung 'round my neck waiting for something to happen.  Special events are good cause for snapping a few shots, but it's the in-between moments and places and people that inhabit them that deserve just as much attention.

Cameras are a bottomless pit for memories.  Mistakes (in photography) can be erased.  Batteries are rechargeable.  Photos are forever...  provided you make backups.

Copyright 2009 Alexplorer.
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