Photographs and memories

I have stopped taking photographs. This feels significant and closely tied in with my death-writing. I’ve stopped taking photographs because they wear me down. Although invisible for the most part, these snapshots (as they were once so charmingly called) plug up the works, demanding that I attend to them but I don’t have time and there are hundreds lying in wait.

These photographs want viewing, reviewing, cataloguing, labelling. They want stories to go along with them. Later, they’ll want someone to care about them enough to hold onto them but nobody will. And so they are little more than perpetual pin-pricks on my conscience, nudging me closer toward thoughts of mortality. Instead of the art of photography it becomes the art of forgetting. Am I making sense? Maybe no, so allow me a tad more space.

As a blogger I’m tasked with dropping no more than 500 words into this post box, no more than twice a week. I exercise restraint and restriction. Even still, I never know whether my words are read other than by a (vital and beloved!) core of friends and family. But I write them in order to have a presence on the web. To help validate and authenticate me as a writer.  I also write them because it’s so much fun.

With taking photos, my restraint is tossed to the wind in these digitalized days; scads of bad pictures are tucked inside memory sticks tucked inside drawers–but to what end?

So I left the camera behind on Sunday when Heather and I went to Stratford to catch some sun and some Shakespeare. Maybe I was in a grumpy mood when I stood at my desk considering packing it in the bag and decided that no, no more backdrops of swans, geese, rivers, Heather, Noreen. What’s to become of the almost identical ones we already have?

Post-theatre, we took a ride 0n a little barge along the Avon River. The only other passengers were a young couple and their toddler daughter “Elise! Elise!” I knew her name not through an introduction but because her father pestered her with it several dozen times during our thirty minute ride, each time he snapped her picture.

“That kid’s first words will be ‘Enough with the goddamned pictures!’ “I whispered to Heather. It seemed truly invasive after the first forty or so.

How does ruminating on digital photography successfully segue into obituary writing? Well, one of my tasks is locating illustrative photographs to go with the pieces I write. I’m always on the hunt and likely also pestering grieving family members for this shot, or that shot. I haven’t run into the digital age yet so I doubt it’s as burdensome a hunt as it will become, but I’m nevertheless hurting with this thought of pestering.

“Rest, rest, perturbed spirit!”

Hamlet, Act 1, scene v

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About Nor

I'm a creative non-fiction writer, with a special interest in memoirs and obituaries--life stories, local histories with flesh & blood anecdotal details. I'm also beginning to create podcasts of people's stories and expanding their audiences. I'm a diarist, an editor, and a political activist. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and spend days tapping keys or staining my fingers in ink.
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