Digital photography is probably one of the greatest inventions since drive through banking. We can review our photos instantly, delete the ones we don’t like and retake them over and over again until we get the perfect pose. We can save them onto our computers, flash drives, CD’s or directly onto the internet and any number of social networking sites. We basically can share our good side with any number of friends or internationally with video allowing you to “You Tube” that yummy tuna noodle casserole recipe or give a detailed explanation of your last colonoscopy. I personally love country music videos and good comics. I occasionally need a video clip on how to change the oil in my car or how to sandblast tile. The great thing is, our world is more easily shared, compact and handy due to the advances in photography.
I wish my Grandmother had lived long enough to see the endless possibilities to “taking pictures.” She always had her camera. My cousins and I were born with a camera in our faces; literally we were photographed immediately after we left the womb…. I’m sure there are some of you who remember the large cameras with oversized bulbs that left you seeing balls in front of your face for days. None of us even wanted to open our eyes until we were 10. Every event of our lives was chronicled on film, every birth, death, wedding, and meal. Especially the meals. Packets and packets of developed photos were stacked in Grandmother’s buffet along with the negatives. They were stuffed in drawers and stacked on tables and I think she used them to line the kitchen cabinets. There were at least 10,000 photos of each one of us stuffing our faces with food (considering there were 17 of us that is roughly equivalent to about 170,000 photos, at the very least.) Every event was chronicled on film, birthdays, Easter, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and after church on Sunday. When we got together, we ate, and the camera was flashing.
Later model cameras had the cube flash on top. Every time we went to the store Grandmother stocked up on extra flashes and film. Sometimes you never knew when she was going take a picture...your fork would be halfway in your mouth or you would be sipping on some tea, or blowing your nose. It didn’t even have to be a special event; she just loved taking pictures of the family! They could have bought a second house for what was spent on photo supplies and developing.
Not only were we immortalized on film, we were also videoed. The video camera was a large black apparatus you carried on your shoulder with a flood light the size of the Hubble Telescope. It took three of my Uncle’s to balance it while Granddaddy rolled tape. This was no ordinary lighting system. If you looked directly at it you could be blinded for life so most of our “home movies” show bodies with eyes squinting and hands in front of our faces. We don’t know who the actual family members are unless you can recognize a hairstyle, wedding ring, or wallpaper You think we would have pulled out sunglasses, but who thought you’d need them at 4 a.m… of course that’s when our Grandparents would show up to film what Santa brought. This was only a problem for our parents who had just gone to bed at 3 a.m. after putting together playhouse stoves and fridges that required four million screws and washers to hold them together. Forty-seven years later my Dad still breaks out in a sweat in the nut and bolt section of a hardware store. He can recount the entire evening like it happened yesterday.
Of the thousands of pictures and movie films that were stored at my grandparent’s house several detailed some of the worst fashions in American history. One Christmas Eve, Grandmother decided it was a good idea to pull out the projector and re-visit past Christmases. Most of the girl cousins were married by this time and so to our horror our husbands were going to see us dressed in bell bottoms, wide belts and white boots; along with long hair parted in the middle. You guessed it; she pulled out the 70’s edition. Needless to say our spouses were in absolute hysterics as we paraded around on film like total fashionistas. Not that this had anything to do with it, but most of us are no longer married to the men that witnessed this carnival. There are just some things that should stay in the closet, or pantry, or buffet or dresser, you know???
With today’s technology my Grandmother would have thought that she had won the jackpot lottery. There would be no stopping her. She would definitely want a small one that would fit in her purse so she could whip it out at the slightest movement from a family member. There would be photos of not only of first haircuts, first birthdays, but I’m sure there would be photos of us folding laundry, taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn or of course, eating lunch. The video possibilities would be endless. No doubt we would all be “You Tube” stars as she captured each enthralling moment of opening a Christmas package. With the zoom lenses available everyone would know when we had a pimple, trust me, she’d want to make sure the image was saved for posterity. She would no longer have to color in the faces with red-eye, she could make adjustments in her settings. We’d have to lace her iced tea with valium just to get out the door without the details of putting on our coat destined for worldwide viewing.
She was a true shutterbug, and yet her legacy continues. Her oldest daughter, my Mom, also has the photo gene. Our family, at least, must pose and re-pose and hold up each gift received at Christmas or birthdays or turn to get the best shoot of the scar from the latest surgery. I have a little of the gene as well. It’s force increases as the years go by as it occurs to me what a great treasure it will be to have lots of pictures of my parents for a time hopefully far into the future.
At Grandmother’s funeral we all agreed that it would have been a most fitting to have placed a camera in her hand. I can just see her telling Jesus to turn a little to the left, His first photo wasn’t exactly perfect!!!