54 I Miss Pho­to­graphs

Dis­cov­er­ing that tech­nol­ogy is both a bless­ing and a curse

More of Our Canada - - Contents - by Jen­nifer Franzin, Win­nipeg

Some­times the emo­tional costs of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment seem a lit­tle too high…

As a girl grow­ing up, there were no cell phones or tablets, and com­put­ers were few and far be­tween. Most of these de­vices were just start­ing to make an ap­pear­ance by the time I’d reached my late teens. Back then I had a point-and-shoot film cam­era. It is hard to be­lieve that was less than 30 years ago.

Right from the be­gin­ning, I loved tak­ing pic­tures. At first it was na­ture and land­scapes that cap­tured my heart, but as I grew older it evolved into cap­tur­ing im­ages of the peo­ple I loved, their faces and emo­tions. I wanted to mem­o­rize ev­ery­thing about them. I vividly re­mem­ber the ex­cite­ment of wait­ing for my roll of film to be fin­ished, the an­tic­i­pa­tion build­ing as I sent it off to be de­vel­oped. I’d count down the days wait­ing un­til I could relive the mo­ments I’d cap­tured. The ar­rival of prints was al­ways an ex­cit­ing time. I loved the wrapped bun­dle and the smell of the pho­tos.

Dad and I al­ways sorted the im­ages to­gether; we talked, laughed and re­mem­bered the shared ad­ven­tures. My dad was and is metic­u­lous, al­ways tak­ing the time to place ev­ery im­age into an al­bum and la­belling the ad­ven­tures so that one day, years in the fu­ture, we’ll look back and re­mem­ber.


Fast-for­ward to 2016 and pic­ture­tak­ing de­vices of all kinds and makes are ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing tablets and cell­phones. What hap­pened to film? Well, it is pretty much dead, no more than a nov­elty now for some peo­ple. It’s as though in the blink of an eye the world changed. How did I get so old so soon? It seems that ev­ery­one now owns a DSLR (dig­i­tal sin­gle-lens re­flex cam­era) and all con­sider them­selves to be pho­tog­ra­phers. One minute I was a teenager en­joy­ing my cam­era, print­ing my im­ages and putting them into al­bums and then, boom— the next thing I know, I have a DSLR in my hand and am snap­ping pic­tures like crazy! I have mem­ory cards that store thou­sands of im­ages. I can shoot and shoot, cap­tur­ing any­thing that tick­les my fancy. I am not alone in this con­stant pic­ture-tak­ing phe­nom­e­non. Even my mom is tak­ing pic­tures with her phone.

What a strange and mirac­u­lous time, yet I can­not help but be sad­dened by the hard truth of it all. Now, rather than hav­ing to be se­lec­tive about what you cap­ture, you have a near in­fi­nite amount of data at your fin­ger­tips avail­able for pho­tos. Wait­ing is a thing of the past. So here I sit with mounds and mounds of beau­ti­ful, glo­ri­ous im­ages and yet I feel so much of the joy has been sucked out of some­thing that was mag­i­cal and so pro­foundly spe­cial to me.

I went from wait­ing with bated breath for my im­ages to be pro­duced at the store to now see­ing them in­stan­ta­neously. I have a real love–hate re­la­tion­ship with time. There is part of me that loves all of this de­vel­op­ment and tech­no­log­i­cal growth and an­other part of me that yearns for a sim­pler time. I miss the ex­cite­ment, the an­tic­i­pa­tion and the time spent plac­ing im­ages lov­ingly into an al­bum. I know I could and should change my ways, go back and print out pic­tures, like I used to—but I am a vic­tim of tech­nol­ogy. I live in a day and age where I can down­load im­ages right onto my com­puter and share them with ev­ery­one in an in­stant. Al­bums and prints are more like ghosts in my world. I re­mem­ber the days when I used to print pho­tos ev­ery few weeks. Now years pass and there are no photo al­bums—just mem­o­ries trapped in a hard drive, sim­ply wait­ing. Wait­ing for me? Will they be printed, or stored on a com­puter on a shelf in a base­ment, hid­den away from the peo­ple who need them and want them most?

I used to feel my im­ages were unique and even spe­cial but now my love for my trea­sured pas­sion is wa­ver­ing. The world is start­ing to move too fast for me. Could it be my age—i turn 40 this year—or per­haps it’s just me? But, no; surely I can­not be alone in feel­ing this.


My im­ages are at once ev­ery­where and nowhere. I have taken hun­dreds of thou­sands in my near 40 years. These im­ages are on hard drives, so­cial me­dia plat­forms, blogs and pho­tog­ra­phy pages but yet I feel they are com­pletely and ut­terly elu­sive to me. I can no longer touch and feel them nor hold them close to my heart; pull them out of a closet and see them la­belled with love, or go back to a mo­ment in time. Sure, I still print some, but not like I used to—just ran­dom im­ages here and there. I am so far be­hind that now I won­der if I could ever get caught up. I want to— I love pho­tog­ra­phy, but I miss ac­tual pho­to­graphs. I want them back in my life, my chil­dren’s lives, and even­tu­ally their chil­dren’s lives.

So for now, here I sit with gigs and gigs of pho­to­graphs and yet I have noth­ing tan­gi­ble to show for it. The young me had many al­bums of pho­to­graphs and now years later here I am at the half­way point in my life with so very few prints and even fewer al­bums. How did this hap­pen? Where did the years go? As I sit here I long for the days gone by of sit­ting with my fam­ily, pass­ing the photo al­bums around the ta­ble, talk­ing about and shar­ing the un­for­get­table mo­ments and mem­o­ries.

We are con­stantly mov­ing for­ward at a speed that has got­ten much too fast for me. The world is at my fin­ger­tips and yet I feel so far away from some­thing that fed my soul. I am con­nected to ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one and yet still feel dis­con­nected. In short, I miss pho­to­graphs. n

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