I had a boyfriend once, who looked at my scrapbooks (I have eight of them…going on nine) and rolled his eyes. You don’t need to take so many pictures, he said. This was the same boyfriend that gave me a major hassle anytime I wanted to take a selfie of us at an important event, and the same guy who stuck out his tongue when I posed (innocently and cluelessly) next to him for his professional graduation photo.
Some people have different ideas about picture-taking and what is deemed an ‘acceptable amount’ of memory-capturing. I get that.
But if there’s one thing I firmly believe in, it’s this: You can never have too many pictures.
Seriously, think about it. How many times have you done something awesome and wished you had a picture to show for it? How many times have you watched someone’s Snapstory and (very creepily) taken a screenshot because you just had to have that pic in your gallery? If you’re anything like me…this happens more often than you’d like to admit.
I’m a picture person.
I love the way photos can capture the beauty of a moment and freeze-frame it, so that months later when you’ve completely forgotten how beautiful the weather was on your trip to Italy, or who you partied with last Halloween, you can just look back on the photos and be reminded.
Pictures have a way of pulling you back into the moment. You study the contour of your ex’s jaw line and suddenly you find yourself missing his touch. Or you see a picture of your dog as a puppy and your mind is flooded with thousands of memories of him jumping on your bed, or his nails scratching across the slippery linoleum floor, or that one time he basically attacked your neighbor’s poodle on a walk.
Photographs are like time capsules that let you flit, for a second, between what was and what is. Each picture brings back scents and sounds and the emotions of the memory. You might want to laugh, or cry, or feel a sudden pang in your chest because that person whose lap you’re perched on is no longer on this earth.
Photographs keep people and memories alive long after they are gone. They remind us of how we’ve changed, and they keep us thankful for all that we’ve experienced.
A year after breaking up with that picture-hating boyfriend, I came across a strip of photos from a booth we went to. We had been wearing matching sweatshirts at the time, which was ironic, and even for him, required documentation.
When I found that strip of pictures, I traced our faces, the smiles and silly tongue-poses we’d made. I had stumbled across this at a time when I wasn’t thinking of him, wasn’t missing him. But suddenly I was.
And that was exactly what I’d been trying to say to him all along—the power of a photograph—pulling me back into a moment of matching sweatshirts and kisses exchanged in a photo booth. Reminding me that pictures are all we have when we lose someone we love, so they’re absolutely necessary.
Because one day you’ll look back, a year or so later, and thank yourself for capturing the memory, for keeping it safe all this time.