Photographs and Memories

I have been culling photos lately. The need to organize intangibles becomes an obsession around exams.

Let’s be honest – I’m wasting time. Claiming otherwise is simply a sop to my ego. “Of course it isn’t avoidance. No, I’m doing something – I’m organizing!”

After this exercise, my digital…assets…totaled around 6400 Nikon NEF files intermingled with a 1000 some-odd PSDs and JPEGs. That’s after two years of photography. Considering how often I hear statements like “I took 2000 photos over the weekend!” and “I’ve put over 20,000 actuations on my D70 in a year!”, I’m either not putting the “film is free” advantage of digital to good use, or my peers are entirely too snap-happy.

Deleting photos was harder than I’d imagined, not because the ones I’d selected were any good, but because they invariably brought back memories. And memories are proving a sore point lately.

The strongest recollections I have are associated with the moment I clicked the shutter. If you’d asked me – “Do you remember standing in the backyard with your sister, snapping portraits of each other?” – I’d return a blank stare. Show me the photographs I took and it all comes rushing back. The clear blue sky. The crisp afternoon air, with just that bite that made exposure annoying but bearable. The weak, clear sunlight. I can remember my sister laughing as I fumbled at the camera, gloved hands slipping on the dials…

What will happen when I delete that photo? Oh – I’ll remember this one – writing’s cemented it in my memory. But what of the others? The not-so-fortunate? With each tap at the “Delete” key I’ve removed a mental jog; decided that that memory wasn’t quite worth it.

With each tap a piece of my past disappears.

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