We don’t spend as much time looking at old photos the way we used to in the pre-digital days. We take photos to capture memories, so why don’t we take the time to enjoy them?
Thanks to modern smartphones, we take many more photos than we used to. Every little thing gets captured and uploaded to Facebook and Instagram. We’re so busy taking photos and coming up with witty captions that it’s easy to move on to the next thing and never pause for reflection.
So often, as the saying goes, less is more. And, conversely, more can be less too.
Every now and then I will upload a batch of photos to Photoshop with a vague promise to sort through them properly one day. It never happens. And so photos pile up and the task grows larger, more daunting and less likely to ever happen.
It’s a shame, really. If I curated and printed out albums more, we would probably stop to flick through them once in a while and remember more of the cool things we have done.
We invest so much of our time in capturing wonderful memories. But then we cast them aside and move on to the next thing without looking back.
A morning of memories
We were having a lazy morning recently, after we’d got back from our holiday to Australia and Malaysia. For once, we weren’t in a hurry to go out somewhere. The kids snuggled up with us in bed and we spent a leisurely hour looking through old holiday photos and reminiscing.
It was lovely.
Photos evoke memories far beyond what is actually captured in the image itself, don’t they? A lakeside view triggers the recollection of a great meal – the tastes, the smells, the sounds of a busy restaurant. A photo of a train reminds you of the conversation you had with a random stranger en route. And so on.
More than that, though, they bring out different memories in each of us. We’d look at a particular photo and Isaac would recall something related to it. That would then trigger different memories from Kara and Toby. By the time all five of us had chipped in, we had reconstructed a richer story behind the original image. It’s like when you have your eyes tested and each successive lens the optician adds makes what you see that little bit sharper.
We managed all this while huddling around my small phone screen. By the end of our session we each had a huge smile, having resurfaced so many wonderful memories. Toby promptly went off to create a huge mural merging three years’ worth of summer holidays. He called it his ‘Holiday Memory Lane’. Isaac drew a picture representing his memories of Australia. (It’s the image at the top of this post: blue sky, sun, sea, beach and swimming dolphins.) Toby then did the same to capture his experience of Chinese New Year in Malaysia. I loved all of them.
It’s easy to forget that photos are more than just a simple snapshot of a moment in time. They are a window behind which sits a wealth of experiences and memories, sights and sounds, tastes and smells.
We should do this as a family more often. After all, a big part of the reason we go on holiday is to create great memories, isn’t it?
I guess creating some actual photo albums would be a good start. That’s my next big project sorted out, then.