Is it Even Worth Taking Photos?

My nan and pap recently passed away. I was given a big box of their photographs and asked to take the ones I wanted to keep and to return the box to the rest of the family.

Most of the albums were filled with grainy photos of their holidays. There were the odd ones of them, but most of them were landscape shots; beaches, cliff top walks and rolling fields. There were also a few photos of manor houses or their beloved caravan thrown in for good measure.

Some of the places I recognised, such as Chatsworth House and Brighton’s seafront, and it made me pause. I stopped to think about the loss of my nan and pap, which I guess is pretty normal. However, it also made me consider just how giving places and landmarks really are.

My first visit to somewhere new is someone else’s old hat so to speak. My trip to Brighton has been done thousands of times by other travellers. My nan and pap saw it years and years before me. Those places have brought so much happiness and excitement to so many people.

But just because I recognise a spot it doesn’t mean that their photo means much to me. It sounds harsh typed out like that, but what I’m trying to say is that I don’t know their significance of the field they snapped five different times or why a particular country park meant so much.

And perhaps it didn’t mean much. Maybe they were practicing with the camera – after all back then they didn’t have the privilege of seeing the shot they captured on the screen of a digital camera. No doubt it would have been a little disposable camera. The ones where you click and hope for the best and then venture to the shop to get it developed.

I used that sort back in my teens and used to both love and hate opening the wallet up to see what moments would be relived from my drunken night out.

Similarly, maybe they were just taken with the way the light fell or just excited at the prospect of being somewhere new.

I have no idea if those landscape photos even meant something to them or if they’d even remember them. Did they spend evenings flicking through them and reminiscing or did they stay politely boxed up out of courtesy?

Treasure Moments, Not Things

It made me a little sad when it hit me that photos only really matter to those who take them. When my day comes, is anyone really going to care about the photos of that beach I strolled along in Bali? Probably not.

Instead, they’re more likely to treasure the photos of my smiling face as I relaxed on that beach. I imagine they’d want to remember the way I looked, just like I want to remember the way my nan’s eyes glinted with mischief or the way that my pap looked at my nan as she hit click on that camera. I wish I could show you the candid pictures, but just like I don’t share photos of my little boy because I don’t have his permission, I won’t share theirs. I’ve stuck them up on my fridge with my other favourite photos so that I see them everyday.

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My nan used to hate having her photo taken, especially in the later years. She’d say her hair hadn’t been done or that she wasn’t dressed up, stopping me from taking a cheeky snap. I’m guilty of saying similar things. We’re so used to everything and everyone looking so airbrushed and filtered these days, that it’s all too easy to forget what ‘normal’ looks like or maybe not what normal is (is there such a thing?), but that people have good and bad hair days, come in different sizes, have unusual looks and so on.

Isn’t it funny that something that can bother you so much that you’d stop a photo from being taken or you’d delete it from your camera roll, means absolutely nothing to someone else? They’d probably never even notice the out of place hair or loungewear. I know when I’m gone that Nova will treasure the photos of my face, whether I’m preened and perfect or barefaced and caught offguard.

I guess it’s not surprising that the photos I chose to kept were all ones of them, not places or things. ❤

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Comments (8)

  • Jade D'sa 4 years ago Reply

    I loved reading this. It did make me think about the photos I take. The landscapes that amazed me then won’t mean anything to anyone else.

    Taylor Hearts Travel 4 years ago Reply

    Thanks so much. It’s so true isn’t it? I’m trying to spend less time trying to capture those shots and more in the moment.

  • Jennie Rainsford 4 years ago Reply

    This struck a chord with me as I have also recently lost my grandparents (albeit at the grand old ages of 102 & 97!) and my Mom within 5 months. Mom and I were going to go through all the old family photos this summer and record who they all were, but it was not to be. I treasure the photos of their smiling faces on happy holidays and family gatherings and felt flippant discarding their albums full of grainy views and fuzzy beach scenes. But as you say they don’t have the emotion of the moment attached. Maybe we take those shots just to capture that feeling and really they should only be for ourselves anyway. I’m enjoying sharing photos of family members in stylish 40s fashion (and older) and bringing some smiles to those who also feel the loss. Thanks for your post which I stumbled across by accident.

    Taylor Hearts Travel 4 years ago Reply

    Sorry to hear that you recently lost yours too. Wow, oh wow at their ages – what incredible achievements. Gosh, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to also lose your mom. Sending you a big hug.

    It’s nice to hear that you feel the same. I almost felt guilty about those landscape ones, but you’re right, it’s the smiling, happy ones that are most treasured. I adore looking at past eras, so I bet those 40s ones are amazing.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and hope to ‘see’ you soon. X

  • Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi 4 years ago Reply

    So, so true – my Dad said the exact same thing. He was sick of decorative door lintels, so now even though I hate photos we snap the occasional selfie just to tuck away!

    Taylor Hearts Travel 4 years ago Reply

    Dads are often wise souls! I love decorative doors too, but in the long term I know it’s the pics of people that I’ll want to scroll through. Thanks for leaving a comment :)

  • Monica 4 years ago Reply

    I love this post. At first I thought I’d hate it because I thought you might be suggesting there’s no point taking photos! But I agree, it’s photos of people that are really special. And that’s why I kind of hate Instagram at the moment because if I ever post a photo with a person in it no one likes it so I end up posting those boring landscapes that matter to me but surely they don’t matter to anyone else? We also have family shoe boxes full of photos but they’re all pictures of people. I even love seeing the photos of people I don’t recognise and probably never met. I think it’s time for more people pictures.
    I wrote a post a while back about how my New Years resolution was to take more selfies. It sounds weird but I want to have a shoebox/ memory card full of photos that my boys will love to look at.

    Taylor Hearts Travel 4 years ago Reply

    Thanks so much. My Insta is the opposite – I post landscape pics inbetween ones of people because I don’t want to come across as self-absorbed or to shut out followers who don’t care about those people, but those pics always do so much better!

    I adore shoeboxes of photos – love a good nosey through and a trip down memory lane. We cover our fridge in photos, reprinting new ones every few months. Nova loves pointing out all the faces, naming them and trying to tell me little stories. Definitely an incentive to take more people pics.

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