Mom moved for the third time and her current residence is essentially a big storage room with a small living space. Because of this we’ll move our luggage into one of the rooms not being lived in to save space. All around us is stuff so we go digging and sometimes we find lots of treasures. For a while only she could go hunting so one day a message came and showed a picture of a picture. Mom’s stash of 4x6 prints had been unearthed.
Going through each packet was such an adventure; as if we found unmarked time capsules. Mom never labeled anything “France Vacation 1996” or “6th Bday Party”. The envelopes only had a date with the request to “print these brighter pls”. Apparently there was some kind of system, perhaps they were organized in chronological order, but we couldn’t figure it out. One pack held pictures from our trip to London; another set unearthed memories from a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. But an older folio held a real treasure.
My hometown is in upstate New York. Growing up there meant that having four distinct seasons was a regular part of life. Spring and fall are my favorite with their lovely weather and ideal (for me) temperatures. Summers can be very hot and humid. And of course winters are filled with blizzards and ice. Some of my first memories are climbing to the tops of snowbanks made from the passing plows and sliding down in my blue sled or going to a park to enjoy sledding on hills. Life without snow seems foreign.
Mom tells a story about when she was younger, growing up in Hong Kong. Her childhood felt either hot and humid or hot and rainy. Cold and winter were super strange concepts only found in movies. One of her first trips overseas was to go see snow for the first time. She still tells me about that trip and how much things have changed. Even now she still finds snow to be uncomfortable.
So in the folio protected a single print of her trip to the mountain to see and play in snow for the first time. That print turned forty-one in 2017. Stories can be told and retold over and over again but sometimes it doesn’t feel real. Maybe it becomes a fable in the mind. But here this little yellowed 5x7 print proved that at one point long ago, this story actually happened.
After seeing that, my first film camera came in the mail. Shooting digital is lovely but the longevity of that print convinced me to shoot film too. The look feels so good; even with all the “flaws” of grain and missed focus. And of course hopefully my negatives and prints will give someone the same feeling of reality and history forty years from now.
Tactile will always include both film and digital shots. I hope one day that someone will also find my suitcase pictures to be as inspiring.