“If it’s going to be a world with no time for sentiment, it’s not a world that I want to live in.”
Christopher Isherwood (Goodreads, 2014)
There are many photographs we all keep dear to our hearts that contain sentimental value, or have indeed, immortalised a moment in time, like a frozen memory that we want to hold on to. Usually these images successfully find their way into our family photo albums, kept for only your immediate family, or a selected few, to gaze upon, but now, with the advent of digital changing the photographic format by a massive margin, are we now deleting our history?
Family albums used to be almost a necessity to families, bringing everyone together due to the static snapshots of time that are collectively sentimental to you. These albums would contain birthdays, Christmas gatherings, newborns, holidays, weddings and so many more events that made a great impact on your life; memories that make you happy, that you want to keep forever. Usually, a family member is “designated” the role of being the writer and controller of the album, mine was my mother, who eventually passed it down to my sister as she began a family of her own. Family photo albums became a part of a culture, it was the done thing, yet as both time and technology has progressed, these albums aren’t quite the same as what they used to be. These days, you could say that around 50% of images, differing between each family, produce images that are fiction rather than fact. I’m not saying that these fictitious images are bad at all, but they just aren’t filled with as much life and character. When we see the bride and groom staring into the camera as they cut the cake, it’s not quite the same chemical reaction of seeing the two newly wed smiling, and staring into each others eyes whilst they cut the cake together, perhaps even making a mess of it. The same with group images; instead of everyone standing together perfectly, all simultaneously staring and smiling at the camera, we used to have someone looking the wrong way, a child sulking, someone scowling at another due to a joke they’re now laughing at..all of these things brought character, and represented a static moment of life, kept frozen in time. However, this is merely a personal preference, as Susan Sontag stated when speaking about family albums, “Interpreting it doesn’t exist”(profile, 2011), it’s whatever suits you and your family best, however you want to remember them. This is the same when remembering the deceased in a family album. It’s very seldom that you see a sad moment in a family album, yet there is now a niche new market for funeral photography. Although other may frown upon funeral images in a family album, wishing to remember the passed in a happier light, these images would have frozen a crucial moment in time for that family, its home of a family album is completely justifiable.
One of the main reasons there are not as many family albums at present day is due to the progression in technology. Only in 2003 did digital truly become available to everyone, making the technological skill of photography a very easy hurdle to jump over. Kodak enforced this with a new slogan “you press the button, we’ll do the rest” (Kodak.com, 2014) opening the doors to a new generation where “everyone is a photographer”. The up-rise in digital meant that masses of images were able to be taken half heartedly, with no worry about the cost of film or the limitation of shots left to take. You were also able to delete images as we progress shooting, getting rid of our mistakes or the images we no longer like. In a sense, we had began destroying the history we had once created. With cameras being placed into mobile phones and the emergence of social networks, the downfall of family albums had begun. Instead of collecting personal images to store in one book, people kept their images on their phones, or even uploaded them to Facebook, where anyone and everyone could see your photographs. This completely destroys the authenticity of your personal sentimental photographs, in which no privilege is now required to view them, the strength of the image you convince yourself of keeping dear to you heart suddenly seems weak, as it seems you’re almost exploiting your own image just to accumulate “likes”. It is certainly a worry that the rise in technology could result in the decline in authenticity.