SMILE FOR THE CAMERA

There are some lovely photos of my childhood. Fewer of my brother but then that’s the price you pay for not being the first born. They are kept in a series of well loved and consequently shabby albums, the oldest pictures held in place with white paper corners and then later, under sticky clear plastic which has lost its stick.

There’s cine film too. Funny, slightly too fast images of my family self-consciously waving and then performing some trick for the camera. It’s all very charming and allows me to hold on tight to a few cherished memories that would otherwise be lost.

Fast forward forty years and my children’s childhood is being recorded very differently. They straddle two ages. The older ones have photos of them that were taken on film. (Remember that? You popped the cartridge in an envelope, sent it off and then waited, hoping that you remembered to take the lens cap off on at least some of the shots.) There are tapes of their early days too which we filmed on a video camera the size of a loaf of bread.

Now that we’ve entered the digital age, things photographic are very different. We all have millions of photos which we fail to upload or print off and consequently are left with the feeling that we have been somewhat short changed by this technological revolution.

It’s rare that you see a real camera these days. Smart phones are the top dog for day to day shots – a compromise of convenience over quality. I take pictures of things that amuse me and then, trusting that my friends will be amused by them also, I post them on Facebook in the blink of an eye. I don’t think that’s a bad effort for a woman closer to fifty than forty.

But my children’s generation have a totally different attitude. They photograph everything! Food, shoes,  school books, hair styles, everything. But mainly they photograph themselves pulling Zoolander pouts, their right shoulder always slightly out of alignment from holding the camera up. Narcissus had nothing on them.

And now there’s Snapchat allowing you to send instantaneous clips of yourself to your friends, knowing that they will self combust in a matter of seconds (unless the recipient is quick-witted enough to record it). Even my nine year old’s at it, sending us countless little pastiche each day.

The trouble is, all these hilarious films and photos are on my children’s gadgetry and as we all know, time and the passing thereof means nothing to them. They are unaware that the precious little archive that they are building up of their own childhood, whilst it seems ephemeral today, will be the stuff of memories when they are my age.

So I’m going to make this ‘Upload It Sunday’. That way, at that at least some of it can be preserved somewhere central and then the magic moments of childhood that the four of them are sharing will be kept safe. Just like my mum’s beloved photo albums.

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