I have been going through my photo collection on my computer because I was going to try out an online photo service and in the process write an article for my site about various photo storage problems and options. The service I signed up for costs $7 a month for 100 gigs. Turns out my library is 140 gigs. That would cost $15. I knew I could get it down. There are a lot of duplicates and rejected shots.
The collection starts in 2003 with the purchase of a digital camera. It was small and cost $700 for very little quality by today’s standards. The photos are sporadic. At first there are single tentative photos here and there, then – realizing the cost structure of digital photography – they blossomed, in fits. A night out, blurry and grainy. A day with visiting family members. Another night out.
They’re not from every day, but reflect conscious efforts to use the camera. A series of photos from a walk to work. Pictures of the condo I used to rent a room in. Pictures of the locations of the failed film I worked on. Of Lucy, my then-new girlfriend, now my wife.
They reflect my bizarre obsessions. There are quite a few of Toronto grafitti (all works which are now, I would assume, long gone). There are many shots of alleyways, signs, and abandoned things.
The years advance. Friends’ kids grow. A trip to Cuba, a couple jaunts to Ireland for a funeral and a wedding. Lucy cycles through various haircuts. There are shots of the first apartment we got together, and Christie subway station nearby, and the decrepit barber in between, and the tree that fell after a storm.
In 2008 I got an iPhone. The photos multiply. Many are mundane, fleeting images: a bruise I got after a bike accident. The serial number on my mom’s washing machine. A shot of a stranger on the subway. I delete a few but start realizing that these photos also tell little stories.
A year later another camera enters: the Panasonic GH1. The photos are all of a sudden much better. Some are beautiful, even. I bought the camera for its video capability as I wanted to shoot a documentary in Windsor. I took a ton of stills with it. The photos of abandoned things, of urban decay, explode.
I try to decide what to delete. I mostly delete only duplicates. There are quite a lot, as if the photos, left unsupervised, have been breeding like rabbits. But when it comes time to evaluate other photos I defer. Some of these I would have deleted years ago had I been paying attention, but now with the time passed, they seem much more interesting. Who am I to say what I will find interesting in another five, ten years?
A trip to Windsor, photos of the Detroit skyline. Around this time my dad was falling ill with dementia. There are only the occasinal photos of him. They are then followed by 40 pictures of my new Kindle. I was writing a review of it for my site.
Lucy’s parents’ cottage. My friends getting older. Abandoned buildings in Windsor. An image of my dad in the dark. I remember the occasion distinctly: he asked about my brother. I do not have a brother.
Then, 80 pictures from a shoot for work, with Star Wars characters. A trip to dim sum, with closeups of pristine teacups and chopsticks.
I start to realize I should not be writing about online photo storage problems and solutions. I start to wonder what reality my current urge to write such things obscures.
My dad is now three years dead and I have not written about it. I have but I have not shared nor finished it. But I am ok now with his absence. It does not seem as sad, or rather, the sadness has a character of beauty.
The photos continue unabated. Pics of houses for sale. A mortgage agreement. Our new house. Our new daughter. I do not want to delete anything.