Do you remember, back when you were a kid, and someone took your photo? It was a lesson in patience; both the process of the photo taking and the wait to get it developed.
These days, we see something worth photographing, and we just take a pic, in fact we take a dozen, we select our favourite, make it pretty and then share the photo with everyone we know.
Actually here’s seven ways that taking photos has changed since you were a kid, why it’s better now:
- You had to do it properly.
Now I’m not familiar with the process of sitting for an oil painting, (not having lived in that era thankfully), but getting your picture taken when I was a kid, was, I assume, quite similar. It involved sitting still, posing perfectly, and not squinting at the wrong moment. You had to do it right, for no other fact than there were only 24 opportunities for photos on that roll of film (36 if you were super lucky), and the thought of ruining one was considered truly wasteful. There was no possibility for silly photos with fake smiles or an over abundance of teeth; taking photos was serious business.
These days, our camera rolls are filled with pics of kids hanging upside down, or smiling in their own, very unique way, and it’s perfect. It’s natural, there’s no staging, and because we don’t have to limit the number of images, everyone can just be themselves and we can delete the ones we don’t like.
2. If you took a bad photo, you were stuck with it.
The light might have been in your eyes, or someone made you laugh, or maybe your dad just hit the button before you were ready, but the camera did not care. You could pretty much guarantee, that on photo printing day, there would be at least one (if not a good third of the pics) with someone either talking, chewing, revealing something they shouldn’t be revealing, or their eyes half closed. And that bad photo was kept forever- hung proudly on the hallway wall, or put in some photo album that was pulled out at every family reunion, because photos were expensive, and you would never just throw one out.
Once that photo was printed, it was the end, and you were doomed for all of eternity.
These days, we take a thousand and one pictures until we find one that is perfect. Which is probably a good thing, otherwise Facebook would be a much scarier place.
3. Printing was an event.
Now it might have been different in your home, but in ours, printing was an event. We didn’t just finish a roll of film and take it in to be developed; no we waited. Months sometimes, until there were enough rolls filled up to justify the whole thing.
It wasn’t just the expense (although that did factor into it), but also the waiting. You took your rolls in one day, and then picked them up the next. As I got older, that changed, and the waiting was quicker, but it was still waiting. Sure you could walk around and do your shopping in that hour, but it dragged when you were getting photos developed because you couldn’t leave until they were done. Add to that the whole excitement of wondering what would be on them (because it was so long ago you had forgotten), and then the dismay that someone had put their finger over the lens, and it was a whole roller coaster of expectation and emotion.
Printing is still an event, but thanks to Pringo mini wifi photo printers, you don’t have to wait at all, and everything is there at literally the touch of a button.
4. The pressure of removing the roll.
Ok so between the necessity of sitting still, the terror of being branded with a terrible shot, and the frustration of the wait, the actual process of getting photos printed was full of pressure. I have very vivid memories of being told quite sternly to ‘never open the back of the camera,’as if the very universe might implode if I did.
Of course I was a kid so opening did happen. Once out of curiosity (what does this button do- whoops!) and a few times accidentally, and the resulting furore was memorable. Not that I actually recall an entire roll every succumbing to that fate. Mostly one picture had a bit of a blob on it, and that was it. (Of course it was usually the best photo of the bunch, but you get that.)
That pressure is now gone. No more film rolls means no more responsibility for being the one person who ruined all the memories.
5. Filters were for the professionals.
One year I did a photography course on a school holiday program, and we got to learn the actual process of photo development in the dark room. It was all trays of chemicals and special paper, and hanging up photos after watching the images come to life. I remember two things vividly from that experience. One, you could alter the look of the picture depending on how long and what chemicals you shook it in. And two, if you made a mistake you could somehow flip the images in your photo. It was exactly like Pic Monkey but different.
Of course getting things printed at the photo shop was a different matter, and you didn’t get a huge amount of choice in how you wanted your film developed, but you could express your artistic flair afterwards. Similar to what’s available on photo Apps today, you could add thoughts and words all with the help of a very convenient, stick-on speech bubble.
As charming as those stickers were, today’s photo editing is coming up trumps. We can take the worst pic and turn it into something worth putting on a wall size canvas, with an inspirational quote printed on it to boot. Just a little more impressive than speech bubbles.
6. Sharing photos was done in person. With tea.
Sharing of photos used to be like this all the time. After a wedding you would catch up and pour over the album with a cup of tea, being careful to ‘not touch the edges’in fear you would ruin the memories. (There’s that pressure again.) Every now and then someone will come over and the kids pull out their baby albums, sit on their laps, and then subject our visitors to a long and detailed explanation of our family history, full of interesting facts like a child’s favourite blanket, or ‘the time I bumped my head.’ Which is wonderful if you’re a close friend, but a little awkward if you’ve just come to drop over the mail you received by accident.
Mostly these days, sharing is done online with a link or an app, or on social media. Now instead of having someone sitting on you while you try not to spill your tea, you can look at pics in real time (or as soon as they are uploaded), when it’s convenient for you.
7. You had to pack a camera.
It was one of the special items in all kinds of bags; the camera. You might forget any other thing when going on holiday, or having a baby, but the camera could not be forgotten. Of course you also had to make sure you had plenty of film for it, and that your batteries were charged, or else it was all for naught.
While you can still pack the ‘good’camera for those really important moments, smart phones do such a good job that half the time you don’t have to worry about it. You can get the pictures you need, plus the ones you want, and a couple of random selfies thrown into boot. And if that’s not a positive thing, I don’t know what is.
So there you have it. Seven ways the world of image capturing has changed – and improved -since we were all little.
Can you think of anything we’ve missed?