Last night I sat with an old friend who had come to town for the funeral of a family member and looked through old family photos with her. There were photos from our high school years, and there were photos of her as a small child. There were photos of her mom’s wedding day, and her mom’s prom. She had photos of aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and grandparents. Some of them had faded to magenta. Some of them were blurry Polaroids. And a few of the oldest were black and white printed on cards. The photos were old. And they looked old. The people in the photos had crazy hair, both teased high and ironed flat, and they wore clothes that made us giggle at the ridiculousness of them. The hair, the clothes, the photos, even the furniture in the photos, everything was dated. And that was their charm. We were looking back into the past, at a time that was long gone. The photos were the portals to memories thought forgotten. I can’t imagine how boring and flat the experience might have been if all the photos looked fresh and new and ‘timeless’. Photos are already inherently timeless. They freeze time and return it to us 1/1000 of a second at a time. That’s all I really want from a photo, that little slice of time. It’s ok if they look like they belong to the time when they were created. That’s kind of the point.
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