Try to Remember

I am in the process of reorganizing my photographs. One of the most enjoyable fruits of the technological tree in my opinion has been the digital camera and all the cool software that has been developed for playing with our pics. I have been into the shooting of digital pictures for four and have even bought one of the fancy Nikon SLR models. Unfortunately, it is too complicated and not at all intuitive, so until I have time to take some lessons, it patiently waits for me to play with it. In the meantime, I am content with my new little 10 megapixel Sony “point and shoot”. Now you may wonder why anyone would need that many megapixels? The fact is I am a sucker for the latest feature or gizmo. After all, you never know when you will want to blow up an image to the size of a billboard and all those megapixels might reveal a great new photographic talent!

Anyway, today I discovered that I have accumulated 3,700 pictures from various trips, vacations and ‘art photography’ expeditions. These latter jaunts are in the form of a Saturday afternoon ostensibly dedicated to finding that rare museum-quality image that will hang proudly over my fireplace. Unfortunately, photography, while enjoyable, seems to require a smidgen more talent that I have mustered to date. The result: a snapshot is a snapshot in my collection of possible works of art.

Now, to the point of this blog. Over three thousand pictures is a lot to manage. So I bought a $350 software package designed for the purpose of managing them, only to discover that one must have two PhDs to master it: one in photography and another in computer science. I am no doubt exaggerating, but it is a lot tougher to understand than PowerPoint. Even the thought of getting Photoshop is beyond me.

Nonetheless, this humbling acquisition has been a chance to revisit all my photos. One by one, I travel down memory lane and recall some very pleasant times. I am happy that I have these images to bring back those moments. This is, of course, the whole point to taking them. What is less clear to me is what to do with the 150 pictures of me standing next to my daughter (or son) with almost the identical expression on our faces—only the backgrounds differ. If I add to this the number of street scenes of Buenos Aires (I could easily paper the walls of my office with them), then I have a lot more pictures than I need.

Obviously, it is time for me to move to a new rung on the amateur photography ladder and begin to cull out the redundant shots and organize what I do have into some sort of order. There are a lot of courses on how to take pictures, but I can’t find any on how to manage your pictures. (There is a business waiting for someone here….)

What is interesting to observe is that my ego just doesn’t want to let go of any of the pictures. What if I forget something about that trip? Maybe it isn’t such a bad shot after all?  The only ones I have tossed are those that are too out of focus or too dark.  My new software has buttons for fixing the latter along with red eye, contrast and a whole bunch of other stuff I don’t understand. I’ve also discovered ‘cropping’ which might make some of my less interesting photographs usable, although for what I am not certain.

The final irony: I have decided to keep them because after all they are in the computer, they don’t take up much room and maybe someday after I really retire, I will go through them again. Until then, my screen saver cycles through them, so I get to see a couple of memories a minute when I’m not doing anything particular—which is kinda cool. So what if my 3,700 images take up more than half of my hard drive? Computer memory is cheap. My memory, however…well, let’s just call this insurance.

In the old days, this many pictures would require me to fill a bookshelf with albums and the cost of developing them would have put me into serious debt. All in all, the new photo technology is a pretty good deal and even if it has me buried under a mile-high mountain of megapixels, I will get through it. Somehow I will get over my attachment to holding onto all of them. Who knows…maybe someday I will become a better photographer.

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