I had this nagging fear that one day I would lose all our family memories imprinted on paper, and as part of my project to immortalize every paper documents covering our mortal lives, I recently got our entire collection of print photos digitized.
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The images covered the journey from my childhood when others took my pictures to the age when I was able to take photos of others. Although old low-resolution images, there was some brain magic in them. As I was browsing through some of those pictures and videos, like being in a time warp, the memories of those static moments became alive and pulled me back to that very moment on the pictures. I could hear the sound, smell the air and even feel my presence and surrounding in those moments. Those pictures were from the pre-digital invasion period where the number of photos you could take was only 24 or 36 per roll. As far as I remember, each shot involved a bit of prep-work with the angle, lights and surroundings to make the most of every single film. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons for the very vivid memories of most of my old pictures.
As I was cataloging the newly digitized world, I came across pictures and videos of my children taken using conventional cameras. Those pictures were with 12 mp resolution, much brighter, much more colourful, and since there was no limit to the number of images, there were lots of them. I went through all of my home videos and realized something was missing. I had taken video of every outing we had gone on and every trip we had made. We had lots of footage—that wasn’t the problem. But then I realized that while I had plenty of footage of the places we had gone—the sights we had seen, the views we had enjoyed, the meals we had eaten, and the landmarks we had visited— I had almost no close-up footage of my kids. I had been so busy recording the surroundings that I had failed to record what was essential.
There was another problem. My memories of them were very faint. They didn’t flash me back to those times instantly as they did in the older paper pictures. I had to jog my memory to recall the very moment those pictures were taken. Then I realized what was wrong. I was enjoying the vacation with my family through the lenses of the camera and not through my naked eyes. It’s as if I was experiencing them from behind a veil. As if I was not with the family in person but enjoying the vacation through the camera’s eyes, not mine.
I have not yet found the right balance to be in the moment and also capture it for later. For now, I am practicing on soaking up the ambiance first and then capture those moments for posterity. I do miss out on some moments digitally, but they remain vivid in my memory. In our haste to see everything quickly, we often miss out of the real joy of the moment.
Moments are crystallized through the digital footprints, but don’t let them take away the memory footprints from those moments.
If you have figured out the right balance for soaking in and capturing the experience without missing out, then please share them.
Success to you!