Mark asked me why I took so many photos of places, landscapes, trees, buildings: was I planning on being a professional photographer when I got out of the Army? Really. I hadn’t really given it that much thought. “Why do you take so many pictures of people?” I asked him. Thirty plus years later, I think I am beginning to know why.
My time as an enlisted soldier stationed in Heidelberg, Germany during the mid-80s was a great time to get out, see the world. Who knew if I would ever be back there again? As circumstances have played out, I haven’t returned. But my brief two years there were filled with work and travel. England, France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein: these were all a bus tour or train ride away for a weekend visit or a four-day vacation.
Fading away. It’s not just the photo prints that are beginning to fade. Mark convinced me to switch from print film to slide film. The slides from that time still look bright and crisp; the prints have begun to fade, the colors blending towards yellow. Scanning and a bit of photo editing has brought back much of their original color, I think, but I’m not sure.
No, it isn’t just the colors that have begun to fade. It seems I never was one to label things or write on the back of photos (thank you Mom for the photos you captioned years ago!) Looking back, younger Me must have thought he would always remember the names of places he went and the people he went with. And certainly he would have remembered those dates! Not so, not so.
Since the advent of the iPhone, I have used its prodigious data collecting capabilities to help me remember where and when my photos were taken. With facial recognition it helps me search for pictures of my granddaughter or other family members, even geocoding where the picture was taken.
Like many people, I upload quite a lot of photos to a third party site “in the Cloud.” I have been using Shutterfly not primarily for photo storage but to print out photo books of our trips and family events. For me they have replaced the ancient slide carousel (remember those?) and the boxes of prints that seemed to never make it into a photo album. The books are piling up on a shelf, and I know the children will likely throw them out when I’m gone, but for now they help to stave off the effects of fading memory. Our trip to Spain is up there on the shelf as is my 60th birthday celebration at DisneyWorld. Well, my 70th birthday is also up there, but who is counting birthdays anymore?!
Old photos fade, memories fade, events recede in time and eventually fade from our recollection.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8