I've been pretty bad about not taking pictures, despite having good cameras pretty much my entire life. I've always had a good memory, so in the past I've just paid close attention and skipped taking photos of everything. However two things are working together to change my photo taking strategy--my memory isn't quite as crisp as it once was and I'm seeing the effects of age on my grandmother.
I've been lucky enough to go to some absolutely amazing places, and I'm usually pretty good about documenting that stuff--I've got plenty of pics from my trips whether they were to exotic destinations like Alaska or just Philadelphia. However, I'm really bad about documenting the day-to-day stuff that makes up the brunt of our lives. I love my life and I'm fully aware of how lucky I am. I love the time I get to spend with my wife and family, my friends and co-workers, and Chloe Bananas. I love getting out to explore the world, whether it's the hummingbird battles in our backyard or Chloe's insistence on carrying lemons that fall off our neighbors tree in her mouth like a ball on walks. The thing I'm trying to say, hopefully without being too bad of a humblebraggart, is that as I get older, I've realized the most important things to remember aren't necessarily the ones that seem the most exceptional. The amazing stuff you squeeze into your day-to-day life matters as much or more.
I realized this when I was talking to my grandmother on Christmas. She's got a form of dementia, which isn't uncommon in people her age, but it prevents her from turning short-term memories into long-term memories. The upshot is that she can tell you with great detail what she was doing in 1944, but she has trouble holding involved conversations and frequently can't remember anything that happened between 2005 and 5 minutes ago. It sucks, but she knew it was coming and has handled it with the same grace and good cheer that she's had as long as I can remember.
On Christmas afternoon, she was telling Gina some of my grandfather's favorite jokes when my dad had a brilliant idea. He quietly took out his iPhone and just started asking her questions. She filled first Dad's phone and then mine with stories of her youth in England, the Blitz, meeting my grandfather, moving to the US, and more. While some of her stories were about major events--listening to early BBC broadcasts on the radio her brother and dad had built, the Blitz during WW2, and marrying my grandfather, the most interesting were about everyday life in a time before plastics or antibiotics or cheap air travel. Those are the things I want to remember.
That's why I'm going to take lots more pictures this year.Taking a photo a day seems kind of trite at this point, but I do want to try shooting pictures of everything I eat this year--maybe I'll post it on a Tumblr or something.
Of course, shooting more photos raises another problem. How to store, catalog, and organize the 150+GB of photos I've already shot, along with a massive new influx of pics. That's a problem I've got to figure out, but I hope by the end of 2012 to have cataloged the existing jumble of photos I've collected and made sure the metadata attached to them is accurate. Hopefully that will make the giant mess of data I've created actually useful for something.