An up and coming family event has required me to collect photographs from days gone by. I have been hunting. My digital files only contained pictures from the last decade or so. I had to go back in time and back in technology. I had to find the photos from the days when negatives had to be developed into the pictures. Photography the way it used to be.
I’ve spent hours reviewing pictures that I had displayed in albums, images stored away in the cedar chest, and snapshots stowed in boxes in the basement. My responses have swept the spectrum of emotions. Tears have fallen as I gazed on the faces of loved ones who are no longer alive, while laughter has erupted at the sight of the children caught on film in the midst of an unexpected moment. What a joy this search has been.
As I sat in the floor of my closet and pulled a film-processing jacket from the custody of Grandma’s cedar chest, my eyes fell on the words “handle with care” printed on the envelope. These words struck my attention. I know the manufacturer was alerting the buyer to attentiveness for the prints themselves, but my contemplation proceeded to the watchfulness that must be applied to the lives of those whose images are inscribed upon the paper.
A picture is a testimony that life has occurred. It is a memorial to a real-time, real-people, real-happening, real-life event. It is a freeze frame, a millisecond captured from the past, an instant encapsulated for reflection. Life happens before, in the midst of, and after the camera flashes. Looking at the still photos caused many moving moments to flood across the screen of my memory. I replayed vacations, birthdays, holidays. I tracked each child’s growth by the school photos – kindergarten through graduation. I rekindled the warmth of friendships from former days. I rejoiced at the birth of the grandbabies. I thrilled again at milestones achieved by those I love. While each picture might have been a moment frozen in time, the memories attached were living and active.
Between the Kodak moments, life happens. And, I think that the best of life occurs when loved ones and friends are handled with care. Loyalty, faithfulness, and devotion have to be demonstrated. Effort, attentiveness, dedication, and commitment must be exerted. Plans and dreams, hopes and prayers, faith and fidelity need to be constantly reaffirmed. These are the things of which great photos are made. The quality of the shot is probably not as significant as the memory being captured. The perfection of the camera angle and lighting may not be as consequential as the personal story being commemorated. Especially for family pictures, the merit lies in shared lives more than great technical achievements.
In order to insure good photos in the days ahead, I would do well to heed the Manufacture’s admonition and view the subjects of my pictures as precious images that I must continue to “handle with care.”