Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Heart Photography

The first camera I ever got was a Christmas gift when I was around 10. This was the mid-70's, and it used those little rotating square flash bulbs that you would attach to the top, and they'd burn out after you used each side once. I loved my little camera, and wished I could take more pictures. It was expensive to buy the film, and the disposable flash cubes, and then have the pictures developed. I would get so excited when it was finally time to go pick up the pictures at the drugstore (it took a week or longer).

Since then I have always had a camera. I got my first SLR camera when I was in college and taking a photography course where I learned how to develop my own film in the darkroom. Once I got the hang of transferring the film from the teeny film canister to the lightproof developer thingie (which was tricky) it got fun, and I loved swishing the paper around in the stinky chemicals and seeing the image show up magically on the paper.

Even better than that was the invention of the digital camera, largely because I could see the image immediately (and just delete it if it was obviously bad) and because I could take hundreds of pictures at a time. I got my first digital camera about 6 years ago, and two years ago I got a digital SLR camera.

Oh, the unparalleled joy of being able to go to a party and come home with 250 snapshots of my family and/or friends. Oh, the unprecedented satisfaction of being able to set up a pretty flower in a lightbox and take 50 nearly identical photographs until I finally got the one that was PERFECT.


For Christmas my husband got me an external hard drive to keep all my pictures in. I use iPhoto to keep and organize my snapshots, and Aperture for my fine art photography. Total, I had around 40 gigs of pictures, which is a ridiculous lot, but I loved them all.

Did I back them up somewhere else also? No. Did I burn them to cds or dvds? No. Did I have stupid, poorly-thought-out fantasies about how quick and easy it would be to just grab the little drive and run if the house were on fire or we were evacuating due to a hurricane? Yes.

Did I ever once think about what would happen if our cable line got hit by lightning? Nope.

Did I weep piteous, bitter, self-loathing tears when our cable line got hit by lightning and my precious external hard drive was irreparably fried? Oh, you BETCHA.

The good news is that I had uploaded a lot of the really meaningful pictures online somewhere or other; to this blog, to my Facebook or MySpace pages, or to Walgreen's website to have them printed out. So some of the pictures of my Dad's last birthday celebration and my sister-in-law's wedding and other important events are not completely gone (though I usually didn't upload the full size versions). The bad news is that literally thousands of pictures are gone forever.

For the past few days, since we got the news back from the data retrieval place that our data was NOT retrievable, I keep thinking of specific pictures I'll never see again.

Mostly, the ones that really sting are sentimental. I had a few pictures of my kitty Zulie, who passed away three years ago. I had pictures of our house from before we moved into it, when the previous owner still lived here, and we were looking around trying to decide whether to make an offer.

Funnily enough, I also had one picture I had never shared with anyone; my friend knew of its existence and would be very glad to know it's gone. A big group of friends were at an outdoor concert downtown, and it was very late, and she was very drunk, and she decided it would be way too much time-consuming trouble to go stand in a long line at the bathroom, so she just squatted down and peed on the ground right there in the crowd. The thing that I found so hilarious (and the reason I was mean enough to take a picture of a moment I knew my friend would cringe over later) was the tiny, perfectly folded square of kleenex she held at the ready while peeing.

So, we have a new external hard drive and I am trying to think of this as a new start. I had been focusing so much on my silk painting lately I hadn't been taking as many pictures, so maybe this will inspire me...

No, this just SUCKS.

But I'll live. They are only pictures, I can live without them. And I'll take more, and I'll make sure this doesn't happen again.