It was just too damn easy to take pictures then and too damn hard to throw them out. All those packets from the drugstore, full of awkward poses, distorted colors, guillotined heads, red eyes, blurry faces, dim lighting. You looked at them only once—in the car on the way home from picking them up—and winced, all the joy suddenly drained from whatever occasion they had failed to adequately commemorate. But what can you do, it’s family. They’ll be in that box in the basement until you die.

my reflection
in stagnant water
…snow arriving


23 thoughts on “Instamatic

  1. Wow! Have to agree with Russ L. I still have photographs in musty boxes that were my great-grandmother’s. Most unlabeled. I just can’t get rid of them.

    • Now photos that old I would be interested in! And back then photography was uncommon enough that it was mostly studio photography and most photos were pretty high quality. But those hundreds of horrible snapshots taken by unskilled photographers (like me!) with terrible cameras in the seventies, eighties, nineties…ugh.

      • I have a small album of my great-grandparents, great-granduncles etc. All tintypes. So I know how amazing it is to have something that old… Most of the photos were of those who served in the Civil War!

  2. I guess I must be totally heartless… I let all the junky photos go… the one’s I save though are so soul-piercing I dare not throw them away… Like you, in a box they go. Burying photos…burying memories… Sometimes I think the fleeting shimmering moment passing is a great grace.

    • Good for you, Merrill. I do actually sort and discard photos more than I think a lot of people do, but they still seem to accumulate alarmingly and I know I will never look at most of them again…

      • Now my Photos in my computer is getting a bit out of hand! See, things are not meant to give us a moment’s peace. 🙂

  3. So love your haibun I must share it at word pond, Melissa. Also love what Merrill wrote here: “Sometimes I think the fleeting shimmering moment passing is a great grace.” Her gesture is grace, for sure. Thanks, Donna

    • Thanks, Donna… And yes, that’s a beautiful phrase of Merrill’s. I have never been that avid a photographer, I think because I have seen so many people spending so much effort on trying to capture the moment they’re in and preserve it that they’re not actually living it. It’s one thing if photography is an art for you and an experience in itself, quite another if your main motivation for taking the pictures is to try to seal something in amber.

  4. Pingback: Instamatic / Red Dragonfly « word pond

  5. I forgot to mention a photo collection – perhaps because my subconscious buried the memory due to it’s pain – but John had an enormous research collection of photos not only of places he wanted to revisit and paint, but also of his paintings. I was able to rescue part of them, but he had many of them in plastic or vinal photo sleeves that actually melted into the 35 mm photos and could not be rescued at all. I can’t tell you how hard it was to throw them away after trying in vain for years to find out how to rescue them.

    not even a stone
    only the shimmering memory
    of joy

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