In 1975, I gathered my loose photographs and consigned them to albums. So began my tradition of carefully pasting and labeling photos from Allenhurst Beach to trips to parties into bound notebooks with clear plastic sleeves.
In the 1975 album, I have a photo from a 1968 spin-the-bottle party where friends of mine first kissed. They are still kissing from what I hear. I have photos from Lois’s bridal shower in 1982, when we cruised around the city in a limo screaming at strangers that “She’s the bride!” And I have photos of the old Howard Johnson’s on the Asbury Park Boardwalk. I love that a bookful of memories lies at my beck and call.
At last count there were about 50 photo albums, but alas there will be no more. I abandoned ship in 2008. I fought the digital revolution for as long as I could, but five years ago I succumbed to the cheaper expense, convenience, and ever-evolving quality of a digital camera. I am sad for the days of yore – figuring out how many rolls of film to bring on a trip (would 24 rolls with 36 exposures be sufficient for a three-week journey through north India?),determining whether to get 4″x 6″ prints or 5″ x 7″ prints, anticipating how all those photos would look when they came back from the developer, and mourning the ones that were ruined (there was no such thing as photoshopping the underexposed image back to life), and the sharing of them with friends over a glass of wine, not on Facebook.
For a while, I was getting prints of the digitals, and still putting them in photo albums. But when I went to Egypt, I simply stored the 3000 photos on my computer, and diligently created separate file folders for each location, day trip, and architectural style I saw. I never finished the cataloguing, but I have to say I do enjoy perusing them on the computer. The effect of taking me back to a time and place – the whole purpose of the picture – is not diminished by the medium.