Friday 29th Jun 2012

I’ve just started using Lightroom, and in the process of pointing it at my photos I rediscovered all my old photoblog pictures, going back to 2003. I’d got the idea of doing a photoblog from Cathy (thank you!) who was using her camera phone (a Sharp G10i) to take pictures with. The pictures it took were tiny, barely thumbnails by today’s standards, and it was an absolute arse to get them off the phone, but it was doable. So I went out and got the same kind of phone and got started. I kept the photoblog going, using a variety of cameras, until 2009.

Looking at the pictures got me thinking. To a greater or lesser degree, I could remember where I was, who I was with, what I was doing, and what I was thinking when I took each picture. These tiny little images still had the power of memory. I did have a camera that could take decent photos, I even had a reasonably-OK digital camera, but I don’t have many pictures taken with either. They also have memories attached, but they’re generally of things I remember anyway, of events or places important enough to take the ‘real’ camera to. The camera-phone shots are of day-to-day stuff, things I noticed while walking home, out with friends, at work, just little things that have interesting colours and textures, things that offer a nice composition, or things that are plain unusual.

From left: the first in the series (the Brighton Marina car park), beer cooling at post-Pride BBQ at John & Liz’s, a toasting fork I bought at the South of England Show, at work, a walk on East Brighton golf course (never found out what these were), and the first day of Civil Partnerships in the UK - I got married here 8 years later.

Thinking of all this, I realised this is exactly what I’m using Instagram for. It’s also why I find the bitching about Instagram so irritating. Yes, the pictures have filters applied, they are relatively low resolution, they aren’t ‘serious’ photography, but that’s the point, it’s all about enjoying taking pictures, making them look nice, and sharing them. If the best camera is the one you have with you, then the best photos are the ones you actually took. It doesn’t matter if your SLR could have taken the perfectly exposed 12 megapixel shot if you didn’t think of using it, but you might just take a photo of your lunch using Instagram, and years later you see that photo, remember that lunch, the people you were with, and it might just bring a smile to your face and lift your day. I have full backups of all the pictures I’ve taken with Instagram, and I’ve got an IFTTT action set up to keep the backup up to date, and eventually I’ll have the whole lot printed out. Even if the record is incomplete, i.e. without the comments and captions I’ve added to my own pictures, I know that each one will be a link to the memory of me taking it, and the person I was then.

And that’s really rather important.