Last year I traveled to Seattle to surprise a part of my family that I hadn't seen in a decade. I was amazed to find how quickly I fell into place with them. DNA really is a thing I guess. I remember thinking “wow, these people really get me. All my jokes are hitting.” No one else thinks I’m funny really, but you can live off of a sense of belonging to a small handful of people for the better part of a lifetime.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was the hours spent going over old photographs. I certainly have a tendency towards the sentimental and nostalgic. These old photos do something to my psyche. They feel sacred. Aside from the connection I have to the actual human beings in them, I’m also fascinated by ephemera and how the medium of photography has contributed to the way we experience the past. The black and white photos of my young grandparents--Did people actually live in color back then? The technicolor square photos of my parents as children, then moving on to the 80s and 90s with glamour-glows, and flash on camera. The style of the photograph (along with dress etc...) informs the feeling for that time period, and it is somewhat cohesive for the decade.
As I was growing up, photography became a race for archival quality and high definition digital. How to make photography cheap and accessible, and how to make it look exactly like real life, a photo that will never fade into the glow-y nostalgia we grew up running our fingers over in old albums. These sometimes hyper-real photos are going to define a time period in history too, and they will be viewed by the hundreds on screens.
Documenting daily life has now become second nature to just about everyone it seems. The motives for taking a picture have changed. I think it’s really interesting that the reality of this has lead to the rise of instagram, and the lomography movement--a visual regression. the general consensus now seems to be that a clear crisp photo is banal--things we see everyday. A blurry faded photo feels more kindred to the way our minds recall events. Our photos are instantly nostalgic with filters and effects. And of course they are instantly viewable by our peers. So I wonder what our grandchildren and great grandchildren are going to feel when viewing these images? Is it possible for them to feel sacred the way my old family photos feel to me? a mish-mash of formats mirroring styles from a variety of previous decades. Hundreds of photos of what we ate, or how we look in the mirror on any given day. The cohesiveness and authenticity seem lost here, and maybe a sense of loss is what will define this time in the end.
But I digress... want to see some old photos?