Recently my Mum brought me a gigantic manila envelope over stuffed with family photographs - among other things, of my grandparents, my first 3 school photos, half a dozen 8x10s of my grade twelve graduation photo, precision skating photos that I had dressed up with marker flowers, a photo of my Mum taking a photo. After thoroughly laughing myself to tears a few times, my first thought was to digitize these photos. And into the closet the photos went to await the day I have the time for such a project.
Though I am a photographer, I am not a keeper of photographs. I began to document birthday parties and the occasional day at school with a creaky late 80's Minolta in grade 7. I took a lot of photos. Somewhere in college I stopped holding on to photographs of people I no longer knew or had barely met - friends with divergent paths or faces elevated in status by their existence in an image but nameless as they'd turned up at a house party in the neighborhood of two a.m. This was probably around the same time my friends held negative burning (yes, toxic, I'm sure) parties for unloved assignments and unfavored images. There is something to be said for making room for the new, the next. But I think there is more to be said for the now.
Photography is no longer an object heavy process. No film canisters or negatives or calculating the rolls of film adequate to cover a particular adventure. We no longer wait impatiently for the photo lab to open, another 59 minutes to curse our closed eyes, request a do over or delete an image. Gone are the days of multiple print copies to distribute amongst friends - posted instead to Facebook or to Flickr, maybe never printing the image at all. Images undoubtedly maintain their significance but how we interact with them is changing. After all, it sure is easy to hit delete.