The auld and the new

Paul & the Vauxhall, 1966

Forgotten faces

I awoke this morning regretting the absence of photographs of long-lost friends: faces that did not make it into my scrapbooks and filing cabinets during periods of photographic famine or dereliction of duty.

For I’ve always seen myself as a kind of archivist … a conceit that may be devised to elevate my status, in my mind, above “packrat.” Nonetheless, between my photographs and journals, there’s little chance of auld acquaintance being forgot, as illustrated in the reminiscences of a recent post.

Uncle Dick, 1966

The shadow of your smile

Someone, a supermodel if memory serves, said that photographs are the best, “ransom against time.”  As I understand the quote, she meant in the sense of redemption, a delivery from the inexorable march of the seasons. And no other medium can, I would say, confer the sense of permanence a photograph imparts better than the photographic process itself.

A sidebar to this assertion is the concern that so few photographs in the digital age are committed to paper, treated as the important documents of history that they are. How many photos made during this season of family reunions make it past social media sharing or impermanent storage on a smart phone? How many amateur photographers have a backup plan for their precious memories?

I read a Facebook meme this morning to the effect that you shouldn’t worry about your appearance in photographs — the pounds you haven’t shed since last Christmas, the hair you’ve lost this year —  but just make sure you appear in enough of them, for one day they will be all that remains to remind family and friends of your life.

Consider the grief commonly expressed by survivors of flood, fire, or tornado that their greatest loss is their photo collection.

Jo, Greece, 1950s (photographer unknown)

Family albums

The truth of that rumination (rare among social media memes) came home to my wife and I last September when she sat down to compile a scrapbook of her mother’s life for the funeral reception. Luckily, Josephine had been surrounded by competent photographers from her earliest days, resulting in a delightful visual tribute to a life of adventure.

The same goes for my late father, a notable entertainer who died three summers ago. Because an extensive photographic record of his professional and family life exist, we are left with a comforting collection of photographs of him, in and out of costume and character, guaranteeing him a place in our hearts for auld lang syne.

Dad the Madhatter, 1993

I’ve wander’d mony a weary fit

Looking back at last year’s resolutions, I see I kept some promises while other intentions fell by the wayside. I did travel more, beginning with a winter trip to the Canadian Rockies. Not to make excuses, but a move to new digs in June interrupted my photographic output (except for before-and-after renovation snaps) and entries on this blog. Local outings were few. In September, a flight to the UK to attend the aforementioned funeral, led to some deep personal insights and a few family photos to add to the album.

The latter photos were made entirely with my new Fujifilm system. If the new mirrorless gear has not revolutionized my approach to photography, it has certainly led me to shoot more street-style images — like I used to do when I carried my old Nikon film cameras and one or two prime lenses, since I’m more likely to carry this kit than heavy DSLRs.

I didn’t shoot more film. See time-restraint excuse above. I didn’t make many portraits. It’s not my place to judge if I managed to “communicate the numinous” though I swear I tried! 🙂 I’m not sure if I managed “opening [myself] to failure,” though I sure as hell failed often.

This year, I’m not going to make any resolutions, as such. My restive mind is full of things I’d like to accomplish, but perhaps I should make the restoration of more family photos a priority.

Watch this spot to see what I manage to realize. And feel free to comment below if there’s something you’d like to see more (or less) of here. Do you have any new photographic plans for 2017? I’m all eyes.

I’ll continue to examine the auld from my archives and I anticipate more travel, perhaps “to run aboot the braes And pu’d the gowans fine.”

In the meantime, I raise a cup o’ kindness to ye. All the best in 2017,

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