Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Jim in Oregon 1994
A few mornings ago, my husband woke me up. “You’re a bed hog and I have proof,” he said.

I opened one eye and glanced at the photo on his phone. The photo clearly showed me sprawled facedown with arms and legs stretched out to cover the entire bed. One leg was out from other the covers, and I was rocking the blue plaid pajamas and red and white polka-dot socks.

“I’m going to sign into your Facebook account and make this your profile picture,” Harold said, teasing me.

“Knock yourself out,” I said, as I rolled over and went back to sleep. 

We live in an age where anything can be captured in a digital photo. That can be good, or it can be bad. Photos and video clips have caused riots, property damage, and deaths. On the flipside, photos can touch us in a special way when we see the beauty of a tiny newborn baby, a cute animal, or a digital version of an old family photo.

Because of the capability of social media photo sharing, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing photos for the first time although they were taken decades ago. These photos can bring back memories of times long gone by. These rare, family photos reside in a file on my Iomega external drive where I can access them at my convenience.

I’ve always enjoyed taking photos. Jim was the videographer, but I was the snapshot queen. Before any special occasion, I stocked up on rolls of film. A roll of film would take 24 or 36 photos. How well they would turn out was always a surprise. The occasion would be long past by the time the film was processed. Even worse were double exposures. Some cameras did not automatically advance the film, or you could accidently run the same roll through twice.

One time when Eric was a baby, we took a roll of film capturing some memories. Unfortunately, when the pictures came back, they were of another family. I didn’t have any luck tracking down our photos, and the other family’s vacation photos were never returned to them.

Photos can help us remember small moments as well as the important times in our lives. I recently looked through an album of photos taken during one of our Oregon trips in 1994. It brought back memories of how Jim loved to travel, especially to Oregon. Jim enjoyed showing me out-of-the-way places—and of course, the back roads.  

When Jim’s memory was fading, he still recognized some people in photos. I came home from work one day and the caregiver said, “He showed me the picture of your daughter’s wedding.” Jim had pointed to the photo of our son’s recent marriage. He said, “Stacey’s wedding.” For some reason, he had trouble remembering our son’s name, but he had correctly identified the bride.

I fixed up a few small photo albums for Jim to keep at the nursing home. One day he tapped his finger on a photo of his brother and his wife and said, “Bob and Barb.”  

At a recent three-day conference, I took nearly 500 photos. At one point my 16 GB memory card was full and I deleted enough duplicate photos that I could keep on shooting snapshots. The photos I had taken did not fill the card, but I left downloaded photos on the camera card until I was sure I had backed up the photo files.

I’m in the process of organizing my “red drive” where I store my photos. So far, I have nearly 80,000 photos stored in 5,530 files. My digital photos make organizing the boxes of printed photos seem quite underwhelming.

I rarely print photos anymore, but when I do, I no longer have to wait patiently to see how they will turn out. I can enlarge them on my screen and crop, zoom in, enhance the lighting or color. I don’t have to worry about them being lost with one-hour photo.

Snapshots are visual memories. Some will be treasured by our descendents and others will be relegated to the recycle bin. In the meantime, trips down memory lane are just a few clicks away.

Copyright © May 2016 by L.S. Fisher
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