Throughout the past year, I’ve started taking photos on disposable cameras. It started out as an impulse purchase at the beginning of the year after half-heartedly taking photos at camp this summer and liking the way they turned out, and then spiraled into a project of trying to get all, or at least most, of my third year on film.
It was after I started taking photos of my family on vacation, my friends cooking in my kitchen, my housemates studying, that I started actively comparing the action of taking photos on my phone and on my cameras. Once I started looking at things as moments to capture, not record, but capture and save, I started disconnecting myself from how I had used my phone previously. I didn’t look at everything as something I could put on my insta story, or post to my snapchat, but instead I noticed that I actively distanced myself from taking photos of things I didn’t actually care about or want to look back on. My camera was for “special” memories I’d want to look back on someday, while my phone was the “everyday”.
There is a wonderful freedom that comes from our phones, and one that I’m very grateful for. This reading week, I snapchatted effectively all of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Christian Dior exhibit to Online Director Jane, who had the audacity to leave me to go on exchange. In an instant, we were able to drool over the exhibit together, even though we were thousands of miles away. That is the power of social media, the power of connection and sharing, one that I always think trumps any negative think piece about how our generation is too connected. At what other point in history could we have on the ground coverage of what’s happening all of the world, the minute it happens?
My gran saves every photo that she’s ever taken of her family, from wedding photos to accidentally taken photos from disposables long disposed of. When she shares them with me, I see a lifetime of memories both within the picture and behind it: photos of my grandfather in his navy uniform, my mom in high school, my gran and I on my first day of school. In a day and age where everything is fast paced, there’s something special about having memories physically in front of you, saved as its own object, instead of just a file on a computer or your phone. Even if the memory or moment isn’t that special, the minute the image is physically in front of you, it feels special.
In an age where instant connection, instant sharing, instant posting is so engrained as what we do to share the things that we love, there is something beautifully old fashioned about holding onto the images of the people and places that we love in our hands, keeping them to ourselves, to look back on when we want to remember what life looked like when it wasn’t moving as fast.