Left: Paris in 2001, Right: Columbus in 2008
In the process of developing a new online photo album I’ve found myself doing much reflection. Since I started taking photos I’ve always kept an album of shots that have stood out above the rest. In recent times they have been more experimental, HDR and higher quality shots. But while digging deeper in that album I encountered exotic travel locations, old friends, interesting characters and horrifying image quality. As I desperately tried to heal the imperfections in Photoshop my heart sank at the pixilated edges, grainy gradients and blurry faces. At one moment I thought that my old photos must have somehow aged when I wasn’t looking at them. I needed to fix them and fast.
But my Photoshoping efforts were in vain and I entered the acceptance phase of my grief. I must have contemplated moving them to a folder labeled “OBSOLETE” half a dozen times. Then it dawned on me. The poor quality of those images was as much of a visual time stamp as the grainy subjects they marred. The Europe album alone marks a time when digital became accessible to the masses. We began shoving our film canisters into dark draws and started talking about memory and mega pixels. Most of that album was shot in 2000-2001 with an Olympus that was almost as compact as its 35mm ancestors. But it had a real glass lens and 1 whole mega pixel! I was on cloud nine. I wandered Europe proudly, snapping away because I knew I could view the photo instantly and delete and re-shoot it if I wasn’t satisfied. Those were the days. Those photos mark our transition to the digital 21st century. So I’ve accepted it and actually embraced it to some extent. Don’t get me wrong, I wish they were 12 mega pixel, 10 GB giants. But since they aren’t then I’ll have to appreciate them for what they mean, not how they look.