Someone told me something like your life won't develop without the negatives. It was some attempt to make a metaphor of my struggles, that somehow life is a dark room and we're all really just drowning in our moments hoping that when we come up for air, we're left with something worthy enough to keep forever. I liked it, that piece of advice, but I couldn't help but ask when's the last time you've even used a film camera?
As a child, I used to save a little bit of my allowance so I could walk down to the 7-11 and get me a disposal Kodak camera. I didn't know anything about photography. I just knew I liked looking through the viewfinder and trying to capture moments. Stuff like the family watching their brother changing a flat tire, the kid running in the rain with a science textbook over their head, the pack of wounded dogs with ribs protruding rummaging through a tipped-over garbage can. I had to be selective. I had to really feel like whatever I was trying to capture said something, portrayed some type of lingering idea. Of course I couldn't articulate any of that as a kid. I just knew that some things were worth using film on and other things weren't. But we live in the digital age now and the ability to capture anything seems to have become everything. Food! Snap. We're all drunk as fuck! Snap. Sunset! Sunset! Sunset! Snap.
What negatives? Scroll through anyone's photos these days. The point is to hide all that's negative. There is no more room for drowning, just a constant stream of smiles that have more than enough air. There is no gasping. And if every instance is a moment, is any of it really momentous at all? Having film that could run out forced me to evaluate what was important to me, forced me to stay connected to my emotions and ask why should I remember this particular moment, this exact second, this face, this feeling?
My mother is always asking where we can develop the photos we take on our phones & DSLRs. Both my parents don't necessarily like posting photos. They know that our moments are our moments, that the rest of the world doesn't need to be in on all our importance, and that a digital memory card just can't be trusted!
So mom still makes hard copies of digital takes to ensure our moments are preserved more intimately. My parents can still sit at a table and flip through my embarrassing, sometimes cute, baby photos. They can pull a photo out, hand it to you, trace the details with their fingertip, and most importantly, share the stories that repeat themselves inside of that exact moment.
That's why I love picture frames and photo albums. That's why I plan to fill a few up and keep them in my house to remind myself of the more important stories. So when it's time, I can pull them out and share them with the people I love. So we can gather and sift through all the yesterdays and remember, because isn't that the point of a good photo? To remember, to freeze time, to take all the world's jostling and shoot it still in a single frame, to travel back and be in all of the places where we left just a little piece of ourselves.