It was over the Christmas holidays that I was sorting through things from my childhood – a box full of dust and nostalgia. There was an eclectic mix of things, like old pieces of artwork. You know, those ones you made when you were little, and because you made them, your parents treasured them, despite them being not quite art gallery worthy. There were other things inside the box, like old school books and my first pair of shoes. Most of which however I didn’t really hold any recollection. It was a box full of things, that once were prominent memories; but now which had been replaced by more current memories.
As I was rummaging through, I came across an old photo, a snapshot in time. The edges of this photo were slightly frayed and it was somewhat faded; but I could just about make out the picture. Yet, I have no recollection of it being taken.
I look about 6 or 7 in the photo, so maybe that’s why I can’t remember it. Yet, I remember the house where it was taken vividly. In the photo, I’m standing in front of my parents, outside one of my old houses. It is reminiscent of a family portrait, with my dad’s hand resting protectively on my shoulder and my mom’s arm around him. Which questions who took the photo, was it a friend or neighbour? It portrays a happy family, with everyone smiling; but it has the air of spontaneity around it. Why was it taken? We all look quite smart, in dark colours (except I have this handmade necklace wrapped around my neck – a sign of rebellion, I think). Are we going somewhere special? The reflection in the door, shows bare trees, suggesting it’s winter. But then why are we standing outside?
Looking at that picture brought back a flood of memories. Memories of my childhood – my old school, my old house, clothes that I used to wear, even my favourite toy. That one photo open the floodgates like no other piece of art work, school book, yearbook or anything could. It was one little photograph, taken in seconds that held so much sentimental value.
I have no idea what happened before the photograph was taken or after it was taken. Or even why the photo was taken. That’s the beauty of a photograph, isn’t it? The photo seemed so random – to suddenly take a family photo outside the house. Who took the photo – a neighbour or a friend? The photo only tells part of the story and leaves so many unanswered questions in its wake.
A photograph is taken in seconds. It cements one little memory that could so easily be lost within all the others. Photographs are little snapshots in time. This one is a glimpse into my early childhood years – a happy child. The short curly hair, so different to how I look now. I love how it captures that childhood innocence, that with the years passing I’ve lost, like any adult.
Looking back, I’m thankful that it was taken, as it’s one of the only ones. How often do you get the family all together and take a photo? And if you do, there’s usually someone missing. Why do we never take the photos of the simple things, that actually mean so much to us?
In the past film cameras meant that photos taken really were snapshots in time. You couldn’t see the photo until it was processed, so you just had to hope that everyone was smiling and looking at the camera. Nowadays, this is all being lost with smartphones that allow you to take a million and one photographs, to get that perfect one. So, little attention is given to passing snapshots.
We use apps like Snapchat, where the photo that was taken in seconds is lost in an equal amount of time. Or apps like Instagram; but these photographs aren’t snapshots. They’re usually created or posed photos, with filters etc to create that perfect image.
There’s so much sentimental value attached to photographs. They are an insight into the past that can’t be found in any other way. Memories are forgotten and replaced by newer ones; but a photograph will always stand its ground. A snapshot in the past, reminding you of that bad haircut, or the favourite top you used to wear. They’re taken in a split second, sometimes catching you unaware and capturing the essence of your character. A snapshot in time, a memory cemented.
Looking at this picture now, brings a smile to my face. It’s a snapshot that captures that childhood innocence and reminds me of so many happy memories. I decide to frame the photograph and hold onto it. So many memories will come and go in my life but this is one that I can hold onto. A perfect snapshot in time.