The indulgence of a quiet moment in the sunshine of a London summer
Black and white Kodak film
Once upon a time, to take a photograph was an indulgence. Film, and it’s development, was expensive. Mistakes were expensive. As children we lined up in our school uniforms for those first day photos, after which came First Holy Communion with a scattering of babies, birthdays, Christmas and occasional beach holidays.
My mother would tell me, so many times, she was far too busy with domestic drudgery to indulge in the frivolity, and extravagance, of taking photos in order to catch a simple moment, a simple smile when there was simply so much more to be done. My father, with his more sunny disposition, became the family snapper with my mother featuring in many of them – sometimes happy but always with a lingering mood not far away. Smile! For the camera!
Recently, the Wall St Journal published a piece on The Demise of Kodak: Five Reasons and I was surprised to learn that Kodak’s original marketing campaign was aimed at women, the responsible wives and mothers who “were morally obliged to keep a meticulous record of their family’s history. They could do this by preserving those Kodak moments.” My poor mother missed this memo.
Now we all have smart phones, digital cameras, every moment, every meal a snap to be shared. Whether we like it or not. Where once upon a time we were invited to slide shows, pass the pickled onions please, life has become a slide show. As such, are we over-indulging? Perhaps, but as someone who takes far too many photographs and shares some of them here on a regular basis, I am in absolute awe of the creative flair, the touching ordinariness of all our days and the incredible generosity of others in sharing such.
And of all the photographs we take, regardless of form, there will always be the odd one with imperfections of exposure, contrast and composition that will pull us back into a space and time to remind us why we indulged, why we pressed that simple little button at the top of the camera.
The indulgence of sweet memory . . .