When I was younger, my older brother and I loved to look through our family photo albums. I remember lying stretched out on the floor in front of an album (many of which are now falling apart due to over-use) and flipping through the pages recalling the stories that went along with each picture.
Oh look, remember the time we tied up Uncle Bill? He would chase us around the house with a toy gun and we would be all dressed up in our cowboy gear. Remember how we ambushed him and tied him up with our rope? It took him forever to get out of it!
Hey! There’s my first birthday party. The cake is in the shape of a lamb. Remember how Mom made that same cake for all of us for our first birthdays? She always made the coolest cakes. There’s the superman one, and the batman cake!
I remember when I got my first camera. I was very picky about what pictures I chose to take. I only had room for 24 on the film and I wanted to use it wisely. At the end of a roll I would carefully take it out of the camera (usually in my closet with the light off so as not to risk exposing the film) and store it away in the film canister. When I had saved enough money I would take it to the store to be developed. Two days later I would retrieve my developed pictures and open them as if they were some sort of treasure. I would look through them remembering each moment and savoring the memories. Then, into an album they would go, never to collect dust, but to be looked at again and again.
I have a digital camera now. As soon as I take a picture I can look at it and decide if it’s worth keeping. After I have taken a couple hundred I download them to my computer. I probably won’t look at them again any time soon unless I need to update my Facebook page. I’m thankful for the technology that we have that enables me to fully document our lives and more recently, my son’s experiences. I have probably two or three hundred photos of the weeks surrounding his first birthday. I hope he appreciates it when he’s older.
Most of our photos are stored on our computer. That’s much safer and easier than albums. But I miss flipping through worn album pages, reminiscing. I miss the time when each picture told a story, and each story was special. I don’t need to remember the story of the first time Gabe ate baby cereal, I’ve got 75 pictures of the ordeal. I don’t need to try to remember the story of his first steps, I’ve got a full-length video of it to speak for me. I am glad that we are able to document our important moments in life along with the mundane, everyday moments. But every moment is becoming so “special” that it is now worthy of enough photos to tell the story. The result: They’re no longer special.