I’m hardly going to be dumping up every photo I take on here — that’s what my Flickr site is for and of course there’s that little widget to the side where you can see the most recent five of them. But I’ve been an enthusiastic if essentially untrained shutterbug since I was small, and the fact that I’ve more recently gone nuts with it is simply an extension of that combined with the ease of digital photography and sites that support it. Then again, that’s everyone’s story these days, more or less — so what’s mine before it?
The slew of family snapshots and views of me when I was young that I have around or remember from looking through photo albums as I grew are part of the blur of memories of the time, and more than once I remember the photos more than the time they were taken, which I suppose is a logical function of mental recovery and letting go. But the first time I got a camera of my own — a late seventies Kodak model, don’t remember the name and a casual web scrounge turns up nothing, but it had a flip handle that was also a cover for the camera itself, which was an oblong thing that seemed more like a walkie-talkie on its side than anything else — I immediately started using it as I could.
I couldn’t and didn’t use it all the time, I should say — I’m not one of those people who got one and then their life was forever changed — but I started making a random record of random things. Shots of family members, the dog, my room, my hamster (of course!) and more besides. A random self-portrait or two as well, and I’m glad of those — they show my ‘talent’ for pulling faces was well-established early on. At the same time I remember a number of my photographs turning out as blazing white blurs with nothing to show for them. This was because before anyone told me otherwise I had the habit of popping out the roll of film every so often to puzzle at it. Therefore exposing the film. This is one of those moments I regret, and I had more than a few such moments.
I haven’t scanned any of those old photos yet but one of these days I’ll get around it — first I need to get a scanner (and I’d be all for recommendations of something cheap but handy for old snapshot scanning, as I gather there are dedicated machines out there) — but the pile of images are ones I actually don’t look through all that often anymore. I used to, yet I found myself shifting more with time to my current ‘process over product’ mode, where it’s less about the tangible and returned-to object that captures a moment in time than it is about creating new ones, or capturing new moments. But that jumps ahead a bit — while my cameras improved and my photography continued in a slightly desultory way through the end of the eighties and beyond, during the nineties it dropped off in a big way. Snapshots on trips with disposable cameras became the rule, and I didn’t mind that at all — they were basic but good, and while I did get a good camera as a gift for Christmas one year, I found myself using it less often than I might.
Yet I was aware of digital cameras slowly, surely coming to the fore — the first time I played around with one in 1996, my then-apartment-mate Jake and I were amused briefly by it but concluded it was too bulky and the resolution nowhere as good as it could be. Which was true. But as with many things technological, I unconsciously resolved to play the long game — rather than chasing down every new development, wait for everything to come together in a cheaper, better form. Two things finally prompted the leap to a digital camera — my European trip in 2005 and the emergence of Flickr as a useful photo site resource and backup location — and so I picked up a perfectly serviceable Canon PowerShot A510, a roomy memory chip to go with it, and went to town.
Since then, I have — according to my site there have been 6,564 photos uploaded in the past two years. Of course, I am under no illusions at ALL about most of these — they are often random, spur of the moment impressions or attempts to capture a quick burst of time of importance only to the people in the shot, if even that. But I take and upload them constantly because I have no idea what people would see in some of the shots, and am sometimes surprised by what people lock into.
For instance, if you believe Flickr’s calculations, this is my most interesting photo:
I mean…why? It’s just an ice cream sundae! It was a great sundae, I should note, but even so.
Then there can be the random shots that turn out to have more importance down the road — so while I was snapping photos of Sleater-Kinney at the inaugural ArthurFest, I turned and took this sidelong image of the audience pressed up against the crowd control barrier:
Again, nothing much to note, I’d guess — except some months later the young woman with the camera in the lower right corner commented to say, “HEY! THATS ME WITH MY TOUNGUE STICKING OUT! HAHAH..IM SO AWESOME! SLEATER KINNEY IS AWESOME..THAT DAY WAS AWESOME..CEPT FOR ONE THING..BUT WHATEVERS CLEVER. YAY AWESOMENESS!!!” So hey, can’t knock that.
The point is, I’m ultimately not the best judge of my own photos. I have no idea what will connect and what won’t. But every so often I get happy with a shot and like to share it, and I will, like this one from earlier in the year at LA Union Station:
And when I stumble across a shot like that, forgive me the indulgence of posting it here as well.