Aug 22, 2011


Remember when it cost .35 cents to find out one of the twenty eight photos taken included closed eyelids? That was back when picking up photos felt as exciting as getting mail with handwriting on the outside. I'd try to make it at least to the front seat of the car before tearing open the thick packet of shiny photos, but sometimes I'd stand right there in the store reliving a birthday party and feeling incredulous about someone ruining a perfectly good group shot by putting rabbit ears behind someone else. It felt special to get double prints and sometimes I'd send them out to the people who were in them, using the mail, paying for a stamp, writing a note on the back, in cursive.

In total, I took 4 years of photography classes in high school and college. The smell of the dark room still reminds me of the freedom a photography teacher grants to roam the campus or chat away the hour with your lab partner in a tiny red lit closet with frozen moments worth printing, clothes pinned around the room. Getting your photo taken meant you'd better comb your hair, stop horsing around and smile and the only people who looked like models on film actually were models. Fixing a photo took skill, filters, a darkroom, a light hand and patience. Sometimes is was just easier to retake a photo when the zit was gone.

When I see people photobomb, duckface and put a carefully rehearsed grin behind a peace sign, I get wistful for just saying cheese and hoping your eyes are open and your fly is shut. It reminds me, in a game of charades, should I pantomime a photographer focusing a camera, my children will never guess it correctly, just like rolling down a window, dialing a phone number and tuning in a radio station.

I still have eight rolls of film undeveloped in my box of family photos. They are from 1999 the year I saw the Cubs at Wrigley field, we had a New Years Eve party and I got a my first digital camera. I've long since forgotten what could be on those rolls and I suppose I should get them developed before there's nobody left that can remember how. Maybe there will be a good shot or three on each roll or maybe our eyes will be closed in all of them.

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