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On The Life List: The Printed Legacy

by - Monday, January 02, 2012

These are a few images of my Christmas. Chaos, right? That's what happens when you celebrate the season with about 20 first cousins and their families. At many of these family functions, I play photographer, capturing moments, preserving memories. I don't mind it. But in reality, of the 100's of photos I take, only a handful ever get printed out or looked at beyond the first digital glimpse. Its too easy, right - take dozens of photos and create a virtual step-by-step chronicle of the moment?

As I work on my Life List, a few things have been rolling around in my head. One thing I want to do is create a printed legacy for Chloe. I remember when I was growing up that my mom would have albums filled with photos from our childhood and well into high school. There were also photos from my parents' lives before the kids and marriage came - black and whites, grainy photos, the names of unknown relatives handwritten on the back by my grandmother. Each one of those photos was precious and I remember them with clarity because there were so few.

I live with the worry that Chloe will have no legacy, no generational memory, once her father and I pass. My history of her life lives mostly digitally, on this blog or in the photo archives of my computer. I don't have handwritten letters from our relatives in the Philippines to pass on to her, nor print outs of emails or Facebook updates or blog posts.  I barely even have photos of me or HandyMan from the last ten years. What will she have to hold on to, to know what her life was like before she could remember to remember?

My other thought is that my reliance on technology is robbing me of my own memories. My focus on "getting the shot"means I'm not really enjoying the experience. This year, one of my resolutions will be to put the camera down; to take fewer photos but value them more. To spend less time documenting, and more time "being in the moment".

The other day, I saw this happen. I wanted to run for the camera - but I stood there a moment and said to myself Wait, embed this in your brain first. Remember Chloe's laugh and how much fun she's having right at this second and how the room glowed brightly from the reflection of the snowfall outside. So I did. And then I got my camera and took five photos instead of my usual fifteen.

I'm getting this one printed tomorrow. One memory for you Chloe and one for me. Less is more.

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