I am by nature a nostalgic person. As I scrolled through the photo album on my phone looking for images to share on this post, I immediately was drawn down a rabbit hole of memories. I suppose photography is the most appropriate medium for me, because of this particular type of affliction. I can look at an old photo and not remember how old I may have been when it was taken but I do remember the photo itself… and can somehow be transported back to my yard in Dumont, New Jersey. I was 11 or 12-years-old, wearing brown, plastic frame glasses, holding my first pet dog “Gigi” close to me. I can actually remember the smell of leaves decaying in the autumn sun; I can remember the names of the families who live just behind the hedges in that photo.
When my brain can no longer process those memories, what will those pictures mean to me then? As a middle-aged man, I can be transported back 40 something years into the past. And sometimes it’s the photos themselves that I have the memories about, because they appear and then reappear in photo albums and in boxes in storage when I stumble upon them; or yes, even as I scroll through the 1000+ photos I have saved on my phone.
I’ve been trying really hard to be in the present moment not obsess or have fear or anxiety about the future and yet I can easily be pulled into the past by looking at photographs. Photos of friends and family members… some of whom are dead now, and those who in the photos look so young, when in real life we have all aged. I think there is a certain sadness to every photograph that’s taken. Even if it’s a celebration of a moment of joy, happiness of life being lived at its fullest at that moment. Because these documents will take on a completely different tone when viewed six months from now… five years from now… 20 years from now. Our skin will be more wrinkled, our hair will be more gray, more friends or family will no longer be with us. Every photograph carries that sadness and waiting.