About a week ago, I finally started the long thought about task of (re)organizing my photo library. The program that I used to use to keep everything semi-organized was abandoned a few years ago (Apple's Aperture) and it is probably only a matter of time before it won't be supported at all. In the process of exporting everything out of Aperture I am being forced to rediscover photos that haven't looked at, in some cases, in over ten years.
There have been a few things that I have become aware of looking back on these thousands of forgotten photos.
The first thing that struck me is that even 10 years ago, there were signs of my current style, a trace of something that is prominent in my photos I take today. My love of textures, grit, and searching to find a different perspective were all there in these old pictures, mind you not always executed well, but the things I feel make my photos recognizable were visible then.
One thing that was quite noticeably different between then and now, is that I took photos of EVERYTHING earlier on. It's almost as I shot without thinking, more of a gut reaction to something that stuck out to me. Now I shoot with a lot more thought, trying to capture what I want from the start as opposed to stumbling upon it almost by accident. It would make sense to believe that I am far better off now, being able to achieve the photo I want more efficiently, however I now will sometimes not even try shooting something if I don't think it's going to turn out. I feel like in getting better at what I do, I am missing out in some of the raw moments, and am not being stretched to learn.
I noticed one other big positive, I have a lot of memories captured that I can look back on and enjoy. The other hand of living your life constantly taking pictures, and never deleting any, you also have moments that you may not be too fond of. We live in a culture where if something happens that we don't like or that doesn't go along with the narrative we want to present, we can go back and delete any reminder off our phones and Facebook pages and computers. I have trouble understanding this concept, because it is the things we experience, the people we invite into our lives, the places we go, that have shaped us and as cheesy as it sounds, made us who we are today. So take pictures, and keep them. All of them. Cause even the bad ones can remind us of how we've grown, and they're as big of a part of you as the good ones.
Now all this being said about having what seems like an impossible amount of photos, I've come to appreciate the pictures I haven't taken almost more. Photos are a form of memories, but some of my best memories are just that, memories. Ones that aren't on display for everyone to like or comment on, ones that are best shared chatting with those that shared the experience with me. I think that the memories we have with out the photos are the ones that are more precious, if not just for the fact that we have to fight to recall them, forcing us to almost experience it again. So as much as you may be tempted to haul out your camera or your phone the next time you are experiencing something you want to remember, maybe think twice before you do, as for me I'm going to practice not taking photos every once in a while.