One of my favorite hobbies is taking pictures, especially of nature scenes. I don’t have a fancy camera; I use an iPhone. Those of us of a certain age understand that the great thing about photography and cameras today is that you can take countless pictures of things. And you instantly see the results of your work.
I’m old enough to remember a time when taking pictures exclusively involved using a camera with film. Each roll of film provided a limited number of photos. As a result, you had to be really discerning about selecting subjects to photograph.
Then after you finished shooting the roll, you had to wait to get it developed before seeing your pictures. This created an element of excitement and anticipation. But inevitably, some of the pictures were disappointing, especially if you completely missed what you really wanted to capture.
Even with digital photography, you can still manage to miss the picture you want to capture. Still, it’s so much easier to photograph people, moments and places and get multiple chances to produce the image you want.
Capture the moments
What has not changed are the opportunities to capture memorable, beautiful and unique subjects to photograph. These are all around us.
Modern photography might give us the instant gratification of seeing our work. The real value of pictures, though, is that they provide us with chances to remember and appreciate the people in our lives, the places we’ve been and the experiences we’ve had.
But how many times do we take pictures and then quickly forget about them? I was recently going through old print photos in a box tucked away in a closet. These were pictures from my years in college—so yes, a long time ago. Others were from a cross-country car trip I took when moving from California to New York in the mid 1980s. Still others were from a business trip to the Far East around the same time.
As I looked through the ones from college years, I saw people, dorm rooms, buildings and scenery I hadn’t seen or really thought about in years. It brought back instant memories of those times.
The photos from the road trip reminded me of the places I experienced along the way: the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Pike’s Peak and Gateway Arch—to name a few. The ones from my trip to Asia included scenes of the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City in Beijing, downtown Tokyo and the Hong Kong skyline.
I can look at beautiful pictures of all these locations on any number of web sites or in books. But seeing the pictures I took, many of them faded or out of focus, reminded me that I was lucky enough to see these places in person.
Snapshots in time
In creating the photo gallery for this web site, I went through nearly 2,000 photos I shot over the years on my various phones. In many cases, I hadn’t seen these pictures since shortly after taking them. Again, as I looked at the photos, I remembered the experiences behind them.
We live in a world where taking pictures is more prolific than ever. It’s estimated that 1.81 trillion photos are taken worldwide every year, which equates to 5 billion per day or 57,000 per second.
When was the last time you looked back through your photos, the old and the new? I think it’s worth a bit of time to check them out. This might lead to some great memories and treasured moments waiting to be rediscovered.
Pictures can help remind us of the people, places and things in our lives for which to be grateful. They are snapshots in time, frozen images that can come to life in our minds as we think back to when we took them and what we were doing at those moments.
This doesn’t have to be an exercise in dwelling on the past. Look at it as an opportunity to help count the blessings you’ve experienced, and captured, over the years.
“God creates the beauty. My camera and I are a witness.”—Mark Denman