More Meaningful Photos

Last night I was watching one of my favorite new sitcoms, Single Parents. One of the seven year old characters said to another seven year old, “Did you know photos can be on paper?”

It should not have come as a surprise that children do not know of a time when all our family photos were only on paper.

Ever since I was in high school I have loved photography. I always took a lot of pictures, but I was way outside the norm. It was expensive, film and developing. When I was in college I took many photography classes as an art major. Being able to develop my own photos drove some of the cost down, until I went to print them. So I only printed the best.

As I look back at my many old photos that are printed I notice a few things. People stood up straighter and smiled, we gathered in groups to take photos, holidays always produced at least one “family photo.”

As I scrolled though my photos of the last year, of which there were over two thousand I don’t have one “family photo.” There are only a couple of big group photos and often people are slumping and not smiling. The ubiquity of always having cameras around has made us lax about actually capturing a good memorable shot.

Before “free” photos no one I knew ever took a “foodie” shot, except me, when I was a caterer. No one ever took photos of themselves, unless you got a shot of your foot when you accidentally pushed the shutter button while holding your camera pointing down.

People used to pose in front of their house or their car. Now we don’t pose much. Taking someone’s photo is not an event. But I do take many mor pictures of Shay than I would if I were paying by the picture. And now we can look instantly to see if we got the image we were hoping for, so if the lighting was bad we can redo the shot. I knew many horrible photographers who got home from vacations only to discover that they could not see anyone’s faces in their photos because they had their family positioned in front of the sun.

I am going to make a concerted effort to take more group shots. Ensure that the pictures I take are “print” worthy as if I was paying for each one like we did in the old days. The times when the whole family are together needs to be commemorated because they happen so infrequently.

This does not mean I will stop taking photos of my dinner, or a spot on my foot. Some photos are just for me, but more need to be for my future Grandchildren so they can look back and see what their mother looked like or if they resemble their great grandfather. In other words, I am going to put a bigger price on photography than free.

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