Insta-Life

Looking back over my old photos this week got me thinking. Back to a time when you had to have a camera, send off the film, and wait for the prints to be sent back. When I was a baby, it was still quite rare to own a decent camera, so lots of photos were taken by professionals, often at studios, or functions like weddings. Those photographers would rush back to their darkrooms, and return with ‘Proofs’ that they had taken at the wedding or party. They would be displayed on a board, and if you liked them, you could order copies to be sent to you through the post.

This lengthy process meant that such photos were treasured, and usually kept in albums. All too often, photos taken by family and friends might be blurry, and possibly over-exposed. But we still appreciated having a copy, as it was the only way of remembering that moment in time, or a big occasion. Nobody expected the instant gratification of being able to see themselves immediately, and they were happy to wait for the envelope to arrive in the post.

A long time later, and Polaroid came along with the ‘Instant Camera’. The print developed before your eyes as you shook it to agitate the chemicals, and it was now possible to see the photo within a few minutes of it being taken. The prints were black and white of course, and a small square. But it felt like magic. Unfortunately, such cameras were expensive to buy, and the packs of film that went into them also cost too much, compared to a roll of film, and the developing charge.

So we carried on with film cameras. Followed by ‘Cartridge’ cameras, ‘Disc’ cameras, ‘Flashcubes’, and all the other innovations of the 1970s. But we still had to send off the film, and wait for the prints to arrive in the post. Or we could go to a high street company that would develop the film, and supply the prints within forty-eight hours. There was nothing ‘instant’ about life at the time, unless you count instant coffee.

Compare that with today. Millions of photos taken on mobile phone cameras every day, all over the world. Posted instantly to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and numerous other social media platforms. Never have so many photos been taken, by so many people. Nobody today likes to wait for anything. It would be rare to see someone happy to send off some film and wait for it to come back. They post photos of themselves getting ready. Then photos of them in the taxi. Then photos in the club, party, or restaurant. A photo of their meal before they eat it, then what’s left after. The cocktail they have chosen to drink, and the friends around the table. Take the photo at 9 pm, and it is online ten seconds later. Plus you can save it on your phone for as long as you want.

Even if you never look at it again.

I am doing this too, to some extent. I take photos when I am out with Ollie, or visiting a place of interest. The memory card is downloaded onto my computer, and the chosen images added to a blog post. It’s not instant, but it is very fast. Convenience is all. Convenient food, convenient gadgets, convenient communities, and instant gratification.

But as I looked through those old photo albums this week, I know what I prefer.

92 thoughts on “Insta-Life

  1. Great post ๐Ÿ™‚ Speaking of cameras, it seems that nowadays people use their cell phones/I-Phones/SmartPhones to take pictures as opposed to conventional cameras. Anyway, keep up the great work as always ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m guilty of taking cell phone pics for convenience. I have an old Cannon 35 mm camera that I prefer. I don’t go after the photo when I use it. The image finds me and it’s my job to capture it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good way to look at photography, Anne. Using your phone as a camera is better than taking no pictures at all. And many modern phones have lenses as good as some found in mid-range DSLRs.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, yes, that flood of photographs, and so many of them are taken without inspiration… A couple I know has the equipments of a professional photographer, worth about 5.000 Euros. And they take pictures… The two year old niece of a friend of mine could make better images…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I wonder too, Pete. Do we appreciate what is instant the way we did with having to wait? I treasure the photos on my phone, and in the long run Iโ€™d have to vote for instant.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I have a camera that takes “okay” photographs, but my wife’s iPhone takes better ones! I try to limit the number of photos I take because they can fill up a PC’s hard drive pretty fast if you’re not careful. Do you store your photos on the cloud? I actually post my better photos on Twitter and Facebook just in case my PC crashes and I lose them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I store my photos on the PC, and have them backed up on a 500 GB Buffalo portable hard drive, David. This PC has a 1 TB hard drive, and I have only used around 180 GB so far.
      My first laptop had only a 20 GB hard drive, but I didn’t fill that up either, as I didn’t use a digital camera much back then ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember the excitement of picking up the packet of processed photos – and the disappointment at how bad some of them were. And I’d had to pay for them the bad ones to be processed! At least today we can delete the rubbish ones. But we do miss out on looking at photos in an album.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Even though I used to sit in front of a waste bin and throw half of them away as I opened the packet, I did manage to learn by my mistakes. Now I can just download an ‘app’, and press a button or click something. It’s progress, but not the same. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. At one point I had a press camera that a little league baseball team manager saw me using and hired me to make baseball card images of his team–all 35 little kids. After I finished the job, I asked him why he hired me. He looked puzzled and said, “You seem to have the right kind of camera and you seemed to know what you were doing.” I never told him the camera was an antique (even in the 1970s when I did the baseball cards for him), and I had only done photography because a doctor told me two years before to get a hobby and suggested a camera. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder how many of those baseball cards those little kids kept over the years–they each got one of everyone’s card–I made a total of 40 sets so everyone and the manager would have a complete set. I’ll bet each kind’s own card ended up in at least one photo album, Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 2 people

  8. There were very few photos taken when I was growing up – too expensive I imagine for a family with six children -so I treasure the ones we have. I also remember getting a ‘Swinger’ camera for my birthday one year. I even remember the TV jingle, ‘it’s only $19 dollars and 99.” It was rather big and clunky but it was mine and delivered instant black & white pictures.

    Liked by 2 people

          1. Yes Pete, the project pushed right through my departure date…I had plane tickets and hotel all set up, but work called…I really want to attend this event AND spend some more time in London…

            Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved the excitement of picking up an envelope of my photos from the pharmacy, or wherever I got them developed. Digital is great for so many reasons, but it changes everything. Although, I know someone who goes through the pics on their phone every so often, deletes those they don’t want, and has the others actually printed out to be put into photo albums.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What I liked in the “good old days” of films for p[ictures was the fun of seeing pictures emerge when you developed them yourself [which, for a while, I did with black and white pictures].

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I enjoy printing out pictures of loved ones and putting them in a magnetic holder and placed on the refrigerator. I can’t paint, so photography for me is as close to creating art as I’ll get. I love thinking about composition and placement. I was asked to “teach” dark room procedures at one school in my past. It was great fun learning how to process film. It makes an outing special if I “assign” myself a theme and capture it on camera. I wouldn’t know where to go if I had to submit a roll of film to develop. In the end, it’s about capturing a moment in time, isn’t it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It doesn’t really matter how you capture that moment in time, I agree. But there was something exciting about waiting for prints to come back. Seeing where you had gone wrong, and enjoying those that had worked out better than you hoped. As usual with me, it is a ‘nostalgia’ thing. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful post! I consider myself old school. I keep all negatives, a still print my favourite ones, and create scrapbooks, I have the old cameras, and done new ones… Of course I also have stick memories full of photos, but I still prefer to have the physical kind instead!๐Ÿ‘Œโค๏ธ

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did once have all my photos organised, with negative folders marked with places and dates. But too many house moves between 1985-2000 put paid to that. Now I would be pushed to find them in the jumble of boxes stored away.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I spent many a day in the darkroom developing my own film. I have quite a few film cameras packed away. Not worth much anymore.

    I recently made a photo album for my son of his family tree. Having digital photos was convenient, but printing at home never has the same feel.

    All these digital photos and the loss when a digital devices goes belly up is a shame.

    For a while, I hand-colored black and white photos. I managed to refine my ability and it really was a relaxing way to spend a few hours. Unfortunately, with the loss of most film printing, there is not much need to continue the manufacture of the specialized oil paints.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Pete, I remember my family made a film of 36 frames last a whole year because of the expense. It was kept back for special occasions, annual holiday and birthdays.
    I became really interested in photography around about my 20s when I could afford it as a hobby. I had my own darkroom set up in my Granโ€™s spare bedroom, and make my own rolls of film from a bulk roll. As soon as I got a house and married, I couldnโ€™t afford to keep it going.
    Years later, I got a digital camera and then a DSLR, but it isnโ€™t the same. I rarely bother these days, I still like images but thereโ€™s enough already on the internet to look at or grab if I need to. Itโ€™s an odd hobby to have nowadays when all the world and his wife are doing it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it is a strange thing to keep pursuing, I agree. I did some processing at school, but never owned the stuff at home. I still have a large collection of old film cameras in a box in the loft, and I have three digital cameras too. But my desire to take photos comes in fits and starts now, and I dislike the over manipulation seen on so many online photos. Wherever possible, I prefer to see a scene as it actually looked, without colours or clouds enhanced for ‘effect’.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great Post. As a lover of antique and interesting frames, I love to frame photos and surround myself with those good memories. Everywhere I look, good memories! What could be better than that? (and shoe boxes full of negatives!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Beautiful photo. I take my camera or phone everywhere I go and the photos that I take brings me so much happiness and memories. It may not be all good but the memories that come with it are perfect!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. We lost the negatives of those photos when my two kids were still young. We lost them to typhoon Ondoy. I haven’t checked the photos yet which Josef instakingly dried from various albums when we got flooded.

    Liked by 2 people

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