In those “check out these photos from the 19X0s” articles, it’s often the background of the picture that’s the most interesting. The ways signs looked, the clothing people wore, the neon lights or the font on the side of a delivery truck.
What did the 1980s look like?
My wife recently shared a photo of her and her dad goofing around in the living room. People thought the photo was cute, but most of the discussion took place over the TV set in the background. Memories! Remember those old console TVs?
I think about this truism – that we’re often most interested in the background, not the subject, of photographs – every time I take photos of the kids in the living room, or the window signs in downtown Ann Arbor. In the future, we’ll look back on these photos and remember what our time looked like.
For every photo we make, we’re recording a little slice of history.
In the process of my big DAM switchover, I’m going through a ton of photos from past years – locked inside iPhoto, or tucked away inside random Finder folders. There are a lot of memories in these old photos.
Talking with fellow photographers, it’s often memory that comes up the most for “reasons why” people make photos. Photos are the physical or digital means to preserve moments. Often, they’re all the evidence we have of certain times or events taking place.
This is what attracted me to photography, as far back as a teenager. I would take disposable cameras with us on family trips, and I have albums full of photos from high school, college, and beyond.
Looking at those images in iPhoto, some as recent as 2011, was a good reminder of this important purpose. Five years ago doesn’t seem all that long ago, in my brain. But as I look back from the images of when I bought my first house (2011), or remodeled my office (2012), it feels like a lifetime ago. Photos help me remember, and show how much time has passed.
“Look at how skinny I was in 2010,” I tell myself. Or, “Boy, what a great Vegas trip we had in the summer of 2011.”
This is all happening by accident. My digital photo management is making me look through these old images, and as I do it it’s reminding me to remember.