Gone but not forgotten.

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I’ve been sorting all my photographs for two days in a row now. My collection was in a horrible mess and I’d been wanting to organize it a little for a number of years now, but kept putting it off. Because I’m a procrastinator and because it always seemed like there was something better to do and most of all, I was worried about catching the blues, as I’m bound to do when I spend a prolonged amount of time sifting through old memories. I just hit that wall over an hour ago. But there are three or four dozen little piles of photographs on the coffee table still waiting to get assigned to their respective envelopes, so I thought breaking all that up with a post should be helpful.

I’ve been wondering what people do with their prints nowadays. Put them in albums? Scan them all and throw away the originals? Well I have no intention of throwing away originals, though I’ve finally purged all the photos I didn’t think were worth keeping, and couldn’t help but feel guilty with every photo I put in the wastepaper basket. I’ll be scanning quite a few of the pics from the early 70’s in case the originals deteriorate, and many of them already have. As for the next step required in this endeavour, I’d have to take several days or weeks to collect myself and then I do have three or four empty photo albums that could be of use, only I don’t find they’re suitable. If I’m going to go through all that trouble of making photo albums, then they should all be identical with a spine I could write on which would make them easier to store and identify. And then I want to do it the old fashioned way, with little stick-on corners, which requires quite a bit more work I know. There are many many projects like that which take me years to accomplish (if ever) because I always figure, “if I’m going to go through all that bother, then may as well make that extra effort and do it right”. I do realize how absurd it all gets sometimes, the lengths I go to so that things will meet my requirements, but I was like that as a four year old, and I doubt I’ll be changing now that I’m thirty eight.

It’s just so weird seeing your entire life reduced to these 4×6″ or 5×7″ prints. Each of those images carries so much more than the moment that is captured. And if you’re the photographer, then there are all these added layers of how you felt at the time and what was going though you head and where you’d been shortly before and so on. I can hardly look at a single photo I’ve taken without being transported back to that moment when I rested my brow on the camera and looked through that viewfinder. All those layers of feeling and information come surging in. It’s a bit overwhelming sometimes, to be honest.

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So tonight, out of all the possibilities of photographs from Prague and Paris and Strasbourg and Crete and Israel and me as an adorable baby, I picked that photo of an old crumbling building that doesn’t mean anything to me to accompany this post. I think it’s an odd choice, but there you go. It was a building here in Montreal which had been abandoned for many years. I don’t remember what used to be in there. It was by the side of a very busy road and every time I drove past it, I was reminded that I wanted to photograph it, but of course never had my camera with me. Then one day as I drove by it, I had this strong impulse to turn back and go pick up my camera at home so that I could finally grab a couple of quick snaps. I was pressed for time so once I got what I needed, I told myself I’d go back again to get some detail shots some other time. The very next day when I drove by, there was no building standing there anymore. It had been reduced to nothing more than a huge heap of steel and concrete. Seems the building had been completely torn down overnight. Just like that.

Pics by Smiler

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