I’ve been a bit of a shutterbug since I was a kid. Around 4th or 5th grade, I did a summer day camp course on photography. We were given a non-automatic camera, taught all about f-stops, zooming, developing, exposure time, how to focus on one element and blur out the rest of the stuff in the frame, etc. I LOVED it. Absolutely loved it. This class did nothing but convince me that photography was the coolest thing ever.
I was hooked. Head over heels in love with taking photos.
I know I got my first camera back when I didn’t need my feet to count how old I was, probably shortly after that summer class. I think it was a Canon, a nice little point and shoot automatic film camera. It even had a bit of zoom and was “water resistant.” It died in college. After that I got an Olympus Stylus Zoom. Again, a nice automatic film camera. I’m pretty sure I still have it somewhere. Now I have a nice digital camera. A Canon PowerShot A95. It’s wonderful. It has so many options I still haven’t figured out what all the little icons on the dial mean (part of my problem is I’m just NOT and icon person…they just don’t compute in my brain, but more on that another time). I know there are plenty of fancier cameras out there, but my Canon does what I need it to do, and some things I haven’t figured out yet. Yes, I could spend upwards of a thousand dollars on something fancy, but I don’t need that. I know I’m a hobby photographer, I’ll never be a professional photographer (I’m OK with that), and I just don’t need that extra zoom lens or other extra fancy options. It works for me.
Since my first camera, I’ve taken thousands upon thousands of photos. I’m not exaggerating. I have several plastic bins full of photos I’ve taken since the early 1980s. Summer camp, family trips, the family pets, you name it, I photographed it. Or at least tried to photograph it. Some photos turned out better than others (is that my finger?? dammit, stop moving!!). I moved a lot growing up, and have continued that trend into adulthood. So my photos are also a chronicle of this. They’re my way of keeping track of all the places I’ve lived and visited and the friends and family that are scattered all over the world.
Photos are the ultimate in memories; they’re the best way to remember a place, your meal, the goofiness of your friends and family. Unfortunately, I wasn’t always as good as I am now about labeling my photos, so some of the packets of developed film in those bins are [ahem] loosely [ahem] identified. There are plenty of names I can’t remember. I did some photo albums, but scrapbooking (despite my best efforts) and photo albums take so much time. And my camera goes with me as much as possible, so there’s always new photos, and it’s hard to keep up with getting them printed, organizing them, putting them into an album, making labels, etc.
I’ve discovered that putting my digital photos online makes this organizing and labeling so much easier. I actually do it. There’s no printing involved, so I can take a photo, put it online, label it and organize it in an album all within minutes. Now that’s something I can keep up with. And it’s an easy way to share my photos, especially with my friends and family all over the place.
By now I’m sure you’re wondering what prompted this post. Well, Yahoo! has decided to close down their online photos. I’ve been putting photos up on that site since 2004. Apparently it was in competition with their acquired photo site, Flickr. In late 2006 I started a Flickr account, and in that short time period I have posted over 500 photos, most of them taken since I started my account (I’m not joking here, people). Fortunately, Yahoo! made it easy to move your photos over to a photo site of your choice (obviously Flickr for me), complete with labels and metadata (camera info, etc.). This was good. I had over 400 photos on my Yahoo! site. That’s a lot of photos, and what’s more, there weren’t any duplicates between the two sites. So now they’re all on Flickr, all 1000+ of them, and I’m slowly re-organizing them. It’s fun going through photos from several years ago, and the wisdom of labeling them and organizing them into online sets or albums has been made crystal clear. It’s also really shown me just how much I love photography, and how much my photos mean to me as a chronicle of my life.
I still have more I’d like to put online. Some of them were pre-digital, so I’m going to have to scan them. But preserving things in photographs for me is the most fabulous thing ever. I am a bit of a pack rat, and one tip I’ve read recently about reducing clutter was to photograph those ticket stubs and programs and keepsakes (like old report cards, those preschool drawings you mother kept, etc.) and save them digitally instead. I should look into that. It would certainly reduce the number of bins of stuff I keep hauling around. What was in 5 plastic bins could become a few nice CD-ROMs (or one USB drive) of photos. This is very appealing; and much less heavy when it comes time to move again.
So watch my Flickr site. More photos will be added over the summer as I start going through that backlog and getting things online. Prepare yourself for a trip or two down memory lane. This could get interesting.