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Life in pixels

My son sometimes fusses at me for taking too many pictures. I have more than a couple of shots of him frowning in dismay at seeing my camera aimed once again in his direction. He has even accused me of being more interested in recording excursions than experiencing them — fair point, I suppose.

What he doesn’t yet understand is how much those photographs mean to me. I can spend hours leafing through the albums of pictures of my three kids growing up, and almost every photo brings with it a pleasant memory of the occasion it commemorated. They grew up so fast — I enjoy seeing how much they’ve changed and matured and remembering when they were small.

When I’m particularly stressed with deadlines and family issues, as I have been for the past month, I turn to the nice shots I took on nature outings and vacations. Like the photo above, taken on Whidbey Island in Washington state. If I look at it hard enough, I can almost imagine myself there again, feeling the cool breeze on my face, hearing the surf and the birds and the rustling evergreens, enjoying the company of my husband and two of my three now-adult offspring.

I inherited my love of pictures — and a cedar chest packed absolutely full of photos — from my mother. I spent so many hours with her looking through the old family pictures she hoarded, hearing stories about the people in them, some of whom died before I was even born. She loved her pictures and her stories, and she passed both down to me.

For a brief time after college, I worked in a job that required me to use a camera almost daily. I took photos for advertising and for employee training programs and I confess I burned out for a little while on photography. I was never particularly enthused about F stops and shutter speeds and light meters. I finally packed away my SLR camera and special lenses and started using disposable point-and-shoots for family photos.

The advent of the digital camera changed my life again. My husband bought me a little Canon Powershot for Christmas ’95 and it’s hardly been out of my hands since. To have almost unlimited shots available! To see those photos immediately without having to wait for development to find out if they turned out well! To store them in my computer for instant slide shows whenever I need a little memory lane pick-me-up! Sheer joy. That camera goes everywhere I do now. It’s even sitting right by my chair now in case the kitty does something cute or I see an interesting critter through the patio door I face as I write.

In answer to my son’s criticism, I am experiencing life — but I’m also recording it occasionally, just for myself. For those times when I feel tired or stressed or lonely or nostalgic, and all I have to do is pull out my pictures to cheer me up. And when I come upon a photo in which he looks at me with such baffled exasperation, that, too, makes me smile. Maybe he’ll understand someday. Or maybe he’ll never have the affinity for photos that I have. That’s okay, too.

Sorry, kiddo. The holidays are approaching — which means you’ll be doing your share of posing for mom again. Sometime long in the future, when you look at those old photos in whatever medium they are stored then, I hope you’ll be glad that you did.


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Award-winning, best-selling author of women's romance fiction.

3 thoughts on “Life in pixels

  1. It’s not that you’re not experiencing the moments; It’s that you are recording them so that you can experience them over and over again. I’m sure that as he gets older he will realize the importance of this himself.

  2. Speaking as an archivist you may want to organize those photos someday! I have a similar chest/box of family photos(both sides) and had to go through them in March for a funeral. Not fun.
    If you ever need archive advice e-mail me.

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