There was a time when having one’s picture taken required planning and someone with skill. After staging the subject and composing the shot, one sat still as the photographer took the picture.
Depending on the location the group broke up, waited for the flash effect to fade, then waited for the picture to be developed. Viewing the image required patience. It could be days or even weeks before one saw the results.
I often go for long walks in Cumberland. Along Mendon Road, I pass a faded sign for Rowbottom studios. Mr. Rowbottom was the official school photographer throughout my grammar school days. If you look up patience in the dictionary I would bet his picture is there.
I have vague memories of being forced to wear nice clothes, meaning ones without patches on the knees from our schoolyard basketball games, sometimes even a dreaded tie on the day set for school pictures.
All day in my least comfortable clothes waiting to be summoned for my turn to follow the instructions on where and how to sit, to smile, to “hold that pose” until Mr. Rowbottom was satisfied with the result.
Several weeks later, an envelope would be passed out in school containing the pictures. They thrilled my mother, I looked and shrugged. “Yeah, they’re nice. Can I go play baseball now?”
I wish I had been more appreciative for her. The joy of those captured moments of a young boy all too soon grown is a precious thing.
It’s all different today. More pictures are taken in one day today than in perhaps all of the time between the first photograph and the invention of digital imaging. There are probably more pictures of cats taken in one day than there were of all the students at Ashton School all those years ago.
My daughter has more pictures of her dogs than the population of North America.
The joy of those photographs diluted by technology. No one waits for a picture to appear anymore. No kid has to sit through a session with a skilled photographer to capture the stages of their lives. Today, every moment is memorialized; robbing it of its uniqueness.
No one has to remember what went on. They merely flick through some screens and there it is.
A friend posted a picture on-line the other day. You see, I appreciate that some technology is useful. Here’s the picture,
This is one of the few pictures taken that day. Some parents may have shot pictures during the game but I’ve never seen them. The picture captures a moment in each of those lives frozen in time. 1968 Cumberland-Lincoln Boys Club Champion Tigers in Cumberland Rhode Island.
There’s no video, no Facebook page, no online archive of thousands of images of each moment of that day. Just this single image of seventeen proud and happy boys celebrating a memorable summer day.
The picture helps me remember that day. Remember those moments of a more innocent time. It reminds me to refresh those memories every once in a while. Anything more than that dilutes the magic.