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My Kodak Moments

English: An antique Eastman Kodak camera in th...
Are my photos history? (Image of an antique Eastman Kodak camera via Wikipedia)

When the purchase of a new computer this month prompted me to transfer the files across from my old one, I realised with a start just how many digital photos I had accumulated.

The advent of digital photography instilled in me the blithe hope that I’d banish the growing stack of shoeboxes stuffed full of ancient snaps, teetering in a corner of my study. These pictures witness not only my progress from birth to adulthood but also the evolution of photographic technology over the last half century.

The earliest photos, of me as a baby, were taken on the family’s old box-style Kodak, where you had to peer down into the top of the camera at a reflected image rather than holding it in front of you.

English: A flashcube fitted to a Kodak Instama...
How to burn your fingers without really trying: rotate the flashcube after use (image via Wikipedia)

By the time I was old enough to master that camera myself, they’d invented Instamatics. Chunky, detachable, flash cubes could be plugged into the top, rotating after each shot.

When I was about 30, the compact camera arrived on the scene. These made film changes easy. Instead of connecting a film to a spool inside the camera, you just dropped in a cartridge. Once the film was developed, the negatives came back in the same cartridge for easy storage.

"A Kodak Camera advertisement appeared in...
RIP Kodak Cameras (Image via Wikipedia)

I remember being buttonholed on a plane by an enthusiastic Kodak rep a few months before these cameras were launched: “Our new invention will change the course of photography for ever!” Famous last words: earlier this year, Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection, the pioneer of film-based photography vanquished by the digital age.

Laura Young at Puxton Park
My little bunny

I got my first digital camera not long after the birth of my daughter Laura. Only the first year of her life is captured on traditional film, the rest is trapped inside my computer. Every time I open the My Photos file, I flinch, half closing my eyes to avoid recognising just how many there are. There are simply too many to manage. Of course, there is the handy facility to change the image names and sort them into useful folders – far better than writing on the back of a print with a biro – but does anyone exist who is really that organised? Certainly not in my household.

And yet with the thousands of photos that I have available at the touch of a button, apart from my wedding photos (taken by a fabulous local professional), I still only ever print and look at the few pictures that struck me at the moment of taking as instant classics. My favourites include an informal shot of my baby daughter and me taken at a party without our knowledge, the two of us laughing on top of a Welsh hill, and a cute shot at a farm park of Laura with a bunny on her lap.

English: Grand Central terminal in New York, N...
Grand Central Station, New York (Image via Wikipedia)

But to be honest, the images I value most are not even in digital format: they exist only in my head. My grandma standing at her front door laughing at a joke we shared joke just before I ran off to school; my daughter lying in her hospital cot the night after she was born (I stayed awake all night gazing at her, convinced she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen); my lovely old friend Joe, blowing kisses and waving as I left on the airport bus from New York’s Grand Central Station for my journey home. As he receded in the distance, I willed that image to stay in my brain. If this was the last time I ever saw him, I mused, that would be a great way to remember him. I had no idea how prophetic that was: he died suddenly, unexpectedly, before I could see him again.

It’s like the old saying that radio beats television because the pictures are better. Or maybe I’m just bad at photography. Perhaps in future I should leave it to the experts – and hope that my brain doesn’t run out of storage space any time soon.

(This post was originally written for the Tetbury Advertiser, March 2012)


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

3 thoughts on “My Kodak Moments

  1. Thanks for that reminder that i too have to organize my photos. I have files all over and I am sure duplicates. Memory lane is a wonderful walk and one that will need a few weeks of time to enjoy it well. Photo albums with empty spaces that need filling. I am a long time fan of our Royal family (and have been collecting since I was 9 ) and looking forward to the Jubilee celebrations. I am happy to visualize events through your words until we get to see events on tv and other modes. This reminder to get down on the computer (since I use my Blackberry everyday) to read and delete or save emails and go on the big screen sent me down to the computer….time to go put on the coffee! Thanks for the articles and have a wonderful week.

    1. Thanks, Debbie! I love your turn of phrase “memory lane is a wonderful walk”! 2012 does feel like it’s going to be another historic year to fill our photo albums even further, what with the Jubilee and the Olympics. I’m going to make a real effort to watch all the ceremonies on telly with my daughter, who is now old enough to remember these things when she grows up (she’ll be 9 by then). Lovely to hear from you again and have a good week!

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