The easy answer to that question is yes. The actual answer is yes – people do take pictures and this story is a classic example of how ‘taking’ pictures is not enough sometimes.
We have a company called the Old Photo Hospital and we literally provide intensive care for all kinds of photographs. Mostly you’d think our work involves really old photographs or really damaged prints and usually it does. But this week, we have worked on a ‘salvage’ operation that need never have happened from an event that took place very recently.
Imagine a couples’ 50th Anniversary party. It’s a very special event. We won’t all get to celebrate such a day, because, such is life. The lady in the relationship came in to me to help her create something she really, really wanted but no-one organised for her – a photograph with all of their grandchildren at their party. You’d imagine that would be easy to do. Even if a professional portrait couldn’t be arranged surely, with all these cameras everyone has, someone would take that picture for her? But nobody did. She arrived in to me with an assemblage of files, prints and discs from which we have gleaned an image of almost every child and created a montage around a photograph of the couple and even that image was cropped from another shot – not even one picture of the couple together on their own was taken. Most of the photographs were taken on cameras at such low quality settings that the images won’t print well, . Some were taken on phones and these are truly underwhelming. I offered to photograph the couple and the children here – but it really mattered to this lady that the photographs had all been taken on this one day.
It would have been so easy to give this lady the only thing she really wanted for her anniversary, for probably quite a lot less than the price of all the other gifts she got but didn’t really need or want. Now money couldn’t buy the gift because the time has passed.
It’s one of those simple things – that popular belief that there will be loads of photographs of every aspect of every event in our lives. For one lady this week, that has not turned out to be the case.