Old Photos (because memories are like days we don’t always have good ones…)

Remember Polaroids?

Remember Polaroids?

Photographs & Memories… a cliché? Maybe! It is also the name of one of my favorite 70’s albums. Talk about clichés, some clichés make me just want to puke and smack my head into a wall. How many times have I visited a photographer’s website and I click on the “About” page only to read some (so-called) prolific statement about “capturing time” or “capturing life moments” or “preserving moments in time” and blah blah blah… While “yes” I am mocking these statements but many times that “About” page sounds so damn hokey, same as the camera aperture symbol being used (most often) in the letter O on the photographer’s business card and logos. They (who ever “they” are) claim you should strive to be different to get ahead and get noticed and sometimes being different could be as easy as not vomiting verbally on your “About” page and just sticking to a statement that is naturally “you” or have somebody else write the statement like I chose to do.

Ok on to more serious things…

I feel that while technically a photograph is a moment frozen in time, captured if you will. But there is more to it than just that. So let’s just dive a little deeper and take a trip down memory lane. My hopes are that by the end of you reading this post you will go look at some of your own old photos whether they are in tangible albums or saved on a drive or in a cloud, go get lost in a memory.

You see a photo today that you captured yesterday and maybe it was a great image and you are happy to see it again. As the weeks pass it may lose a little feeling and soon it will start to wane and you’ll not look at it so much anymore. Or maybe you will see it every day because it is your profile or cover photo on your favorite form of social media. You see it every time you logon but you don’t really “notice” it, it’s like your feet, you know they’re there (somewhere… you hope) you just don’t think about them too much.

We have all heard a song from days gone by that triggers a memory. But if you are like me the song will not just trigger one single memory, it will open a window for you to look back and peer into your life and see the entire ambience around that time in your life. You will look well beyond the “moment captured in time” and the moment was just a key to unlock so much more. This is what old photographs do for me, they open a window and there is so much more to see then just that “moment captured in time” that is on your monitor or printed to a piece of paper. “Lost in a memory” can be a very emotional thing because memories are like days we don’t always have good ones, but we do have the images to remind us… good or bad. A picture is worth a thousand words but that one picture could be worth just as many memories too.

Now I know this sounds a little stupid but pictures have to be new before they can become old. My point is; go make some new pictures. Keep them safe and let them age.

Summertime Memories (the joy & love of nature was with me as a child, although back then it was just everyday life.)

Tiger Lily

So today I would like to talk about two recent photos that are kind of special to me because of the “memory factor” as I like to call it. We all often times look at photos and they bring back memories. We see an old photo of ourselves or family members or maybe even friends and it triggers our mind and we think back to that day or time. It is easy to think back to it because we see the faces or places and it forces the memory. But then there are the other photos that trigger memories and that is what I’m talking about today.

Sometimes we just see an image of something simple and it represents something big in our mind. The two photos in this post represent similar things to me. They may not mean very much to you the reader other than they may look like nice photos. I captured these images on separate days at two totally different locations. Both photos were not planned but rather just a spur of the moment shot. And then during the edit each one triggered or I should say opened a flood gate of memories. Memories, which I never really thought about because they were kind of simple or uneventful.

While editing the photo of the berries I started to drift back in time to when I was a small boy of 8 to 12 years old and I thought about the many times my sisters and I would find the wild berries as we had our adventures playing on the farm. The berries were always plentiful as were the adventures on that farm. Then the memory shifted to a later time as I was in my teens working on tobacco farms in Virginia. Again wild berries were always abundant, whether I was walking down a backwoods dirt road in the beautiful countryside or at the edge of a “baccer patch” (as the locals called it) up on a mountainside. Then as the memory shifted once again to the bicycle path along the Delaware River, either walking or biking I would stop and have a snack. I could even see my girlfriend’s face as we would fight to see who could get the nicest berries. Who would think a simple photo could bring back so much. This really is one of the joys of photography for me on a personal level. Sure I like working with people and covering events, but getting out and taking a walk in nature and just looking for the finer things it has to offer is such a joy.

The Tiger Lily more or less is the same as the berries. It represents summer, hot weather and for me the Tiger Lily most represented “summer freedom” as in NO SCHOOL! Yeah no school! For it is always late June when we see the lilies appear here in New Jersey and that is when school is out for the summer. The lilies were always a backdrop to my meanderings either on bicycle or walking as I made my way up & down the country roads of Delaware Township. And as much as this world around me has changed with all the progression of building houses and making way for the new, the Tiger Lily or “Ditch Lily” as some old timers call them is still here. Not only on the roadside but everywhere, I love them. I think of hot summer days walking to visit my friend John. Yes those were the days and sure I don’t need a Tiger Lily to make me remember those wonderful times but it sure helps set the scene. I have come to realize the joy & love of nature was with me as a child, although back then it was just everyday life. I’m so blessed to have had that life.

Photography Info:

Both images were captured with a Canon 6D using a 70-200mm lens.

Both were edited in Lightroom using very basic adjustments such as contrast, clarity, vibrance and highlights.

The berries were shot at 1/50 of sec at f/2.8 ISO 50 at 200mm 7:04pm.

The Tiger Lily was shot using fill flash set to 1/32 power from an EX430II flash.

Capture was 1/60 of sec at f/2.8 ISO 50 at 102mm 12:21pm.


Sometimes Something Special Happens (I would imagine I was an arctic explorer)

Winter Morning Sun

Winter Morning Sun

Sometimes one will happen upon a special scene. How do we know it is special? We see it of course, but I would say for me it is more of a feeling. Yes there is the visual presence of what we are seeing with our eyes. But more so I think what makes for the special scene is when it triggers a memory from long ago or it reminds us of a special place we have once visited or maybe a person in our life that is at the moment far away or has moved on from this world. So that is what this blog post is about. It is about this photo you see above and how this photo gave me that special feeling. I know this photo is not a work of art by any means and if it stirs a reaction from you I am very happy. Who knows it may give you a different feeling than it does me. After all I was the one standing there and got to actually see the beauty and feel it. So let me set the stage and how I came upon this scene.

As some know I am a school bus driver and I drive a small van size bus. The bus is not small because I have “special” students but rather I travel into a very rural area and on very narrow back roads of Hunterdon, Mercer & Somerset Counties here in New Jersey USA. This place you see in the photo is a place I stop every morning prior to picking up my first student of the day. I stop here to collect my thoughts and wait until the exact second on the clock to continue on and I like to be on time. On time, to the very second (a little OCD there). Because I arrive at this spot daily at 6:10am, in January it is dark, I just pull the bus to stop on the side of this back road and wait my time sitting in the seat. But on this day I was starting the day late because the school had a delayed opening due to a bad winter storm that had arrived the day before.

So upon driving up the road I noticed the sun rising to my right and as I approached my usual spot to stop I opened the door and stepped out. When I did this is the scene that was presented to me and it happened, that special feeling of “wow” look at this. For me it instantly took me back to when I was young and I would see the virgin snow across a meadow on the farm where I lived as a small child. I stood there as the memories swept through my mind. I can remember coming out of the house after the snow had stopped and finding a scene like this that had no foot prints at all and then trudging across the meadow leaving just “my” foot prints. As a child I would imagine I was an artic explorer and go off having fun as young children do. Like most memories, one is tied to another and they start to unravel like a string.

I quickly reached for my phone and I captured about 4-5 shots of this scene and then I went back to my memories. I thought about riding my Flexible Flyer sled, I thought about how we would come in from a day of winter fun, all sopping wet and hungry. As the memories just kept unraveling all of the sudden I was startled by a strong vibration in my right hand. My alarm clock in my phone was going off telling me it is time to start the bus run and in an instant the young boy playing in the snow evaporated from my mind. Although I seen him in idle moments throughout the rest of the day. Also I couldn’t wait to see how bad my photos were, thinking “what I seen vs. what the mobile phone camera captured.” To my surprise I had a good photo or at least good enough to do a minor edit and post to Facebook & Twitter. So the Twitter feedback lit up and I couldn’t wait to return home to see it on a monitor.

Most of us would give anything to go back in time to all the fun we had, snow included. But as we age we take that small child with us in our memories and every once in a while something unlocks the door and we can peer in and see they are still there playing away. Thank god for those “every once in a while” scenes.