March 8, 2014

Hoarders, Electronic Edition: Life in the B-Roll

I got the dreaded notification: My iCloud storage is full.

My first impulse is to buy more storage, though I wonder if I'm like a hoarder renting a new storage unit: Am I avoiding a deeper problem? Do I need to get better at letting go?

I teased one of my friends for carrying a painfully outdated phone because she couldn't part with the photos on it - thousands of them. I've had my iPhone for 9 months and now I understand her pain completely. The hardest part is deleting the B-Roll.

If A-level photos are the ones that you share on social media or print on giant canvases, then the B-Roll is the next level down - not so awful that you immediately need to delete them, but far from perfect. It's those moments when a running child shows up as a blur, when a cat photobombs you, when your friend makes a face that's perfectly theirs but not the one they'd knowingly show to the camera. It's the authentic imperfection of life, in digital format.

I wish I had the B-Roll from my own childhood, but I grew up in a time before smartphones, before digital photography, when people were choosy about what they photographed. The albums of my childhood tell stories of vacations, holidays, and other special events. Mundane photos of daily life in the '80s and '90s are rare, and I miss them. 

We don't have a single photo of my family relaxing in the TV room, or my mother cooking at the stove, or my dad sitting on the patio reading a book. Nobody took selfies or photographed their food - it would have been "a waste of film." I would love to see a close-up of my mother's face from 1978. I would love to see a picture of myself riding in a grocery cart in 1983 - and I'd be curious what else was in the cart, too. I want to see the clutter of my messy childhood bedroom, the toys I was playing with and the books I was reading at that moment.

I like to imagine Evie and Felix looking through their childhood photos years from now, appreciating the little moments I captured for them. 

But then I wonder if I'm doing too much, if maybe you're supposed to forget certain details and filter out others, and perhaps the act of forgetting is imperative to growing up and moving forward. 

Maybe I'm trying to substitute the photo for the thing itself, and what I'm really worried about is that I will blink and this beautiful era in our family's lives will be over and I won't have any way to get back. 

I'm not sure.

That's the fuzzy imperfection of life.

We're going to need a bigger Cloud.

No comments: