I’ve just got back from my third trip to Rome and a few differences stood out. It was much hotter (even though the first trip was at the same time of year), it was much busier, and I took many, many, more photos. All told, I must have taken about 1,200, which isn’t bad going in a week. Some would say excessive. So why so many?
Obviously it was facilitated by the fact that I have a digital camera now, but has that changed the way I approach photography? To an extent, yes, because it’s so much easier now to point, click, check whether it’s what I wanted, and try again. Another angle, another level of magnification. My camera allows me to zoom in on objects in a picture and crop it, or correct the lighting, which then creates another picture. On the open-top Archeobus I kept clicking away, hoping that some came out in focus and showed the view, rather than lots of people’s heads. I also now take a lot of pictures of information boards – occasionally for printing but mainly so that when I come back to a photo I know which bit of ruined building it is. I never would have been so carefree in the old days, when sometimes it seemed to take ages to finish a film. It was quite striking last weekend that after sifting the photos from a family event I was left with 35, which didn’t seem that much when I looked through them. Until I realised that was the equivalent of a film – and not a standard one of 24, which is what I usually used, but a long film of 36 – on one event! Not so long ago that would have seemed rather extravagant. So what’s changed?
OK, it’s slightly cheaper to print now without the extra cost of buying a film, but not significantly, and it still adds a fair bit to the holiday bill to print a few hundred. Partly I suppose I’m more phlegmatic about cost now I’m a grown-up with my own income. But I think what it really boils down to is an increasing need to record everything, just in case. Maybe I won’t want that photo later, but if I don’t take it now I won’t get another chance and I’ll never have it. Obviously I’ll never need (or want) all 1,200 photos, but I go back with a fresh eye, discard the completely duff ones, the ones that don’t actually show much after all, or are pretty much or even totally duplicates. I’ve got some natty software which I think came with my camera that can ‘stitch’ pictures together to make panoramas, so once I’ve got those I can get rid of the composites.
But once you’ve done all your sifting, then what? Do you save them all, steadily clogging up your hard drive? Print? I still like to print photos and keep them in albums (an increasingly old-fashioned past-time I get the impression). But I certainly don’t need all of them printed. So I’m currently selecting which to print and stick in an album. I’ll then transfer all the ones I want to keep (just in case!) to some sort of external storage device. I’m trying to be careful about that too – how many discs do I want lying around? After all, I rarely used to keep negatives for reprints. So a lot are deleted when I’ve finished with them, but some I’ll keep – special occasions, like weddings and trips to Rome.
Because you never know when you might want an old photo – for uploading to a blog for instance…