Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An Over Documented Life

I flipped through the seven folders of my weeklong trip to the different places I’d been to during a particular week of travel and holidaying. Beaches, dams, mountains, fountains, parks, falls, trees, leaves, water, sunshine, and nature.

Every day was documented in a separate folder. Day 1. Day 2. Day 3. You get it, don’t you? I’d decided to take advantage of a digital SLR camera I owned, and capture every bit of what I saw. From every angle. Left. Right. Front. The fountain gurgling water in different directions. Four different shots of the same cloud crowning the mountain. The same beach from three different angles.

I randomly selected a particular folder and clicked on it. 327 pictures. 327 pictures to be sorted, selected, grouped, and labeled. A bunch of representative pictures would be facebooked. A bunch would be emailed home. A bunch would be uploaded on Picasa to be emailed to friends. I flipped through random pictures, hoping to remember the name of the mountain. I clicked on consecutive pictures and all of them looked the same. I remembered the “hocus focus” game we played as children where one would have to spot at least 6 differences in the 2 photographs published in the newspapers. One picture had a minor difference not there in the second one. I tried to focus on the 2 consecutive pictures of the mountains. I could not spot a difference. Maybe one was zoomed in a little more. 327 pictures in a day? And 7 days worth of pictures? I involuntarily yawned. Perhaps the picture sorting task could be done tomorrow. Perhaps in the weekend. We will see.

I remembered an era from a different lifetime, not more than 5 years ago. A Kodak KB 10 camera. 32 pictures in a roll. Click. Wait. Take it to the shop. Wait for a few days. Get the prints. Sort them manually. Put them in an album. Store them in the cupboard.

32 pictures. An entire trip. Was it not an era where trips and festivals and occasions were well documented? Of course there was not a second chance if you happened to shut your eyes when the camera flash shone. You could not have pictures of the same object from different angles. But those 32 pictures were valued, prized, cherished. Not dumped into a folder to be sorted later. I remember my parents’ wedding album. My childhood album. No two pictures look the same, yet every picture has been so well documented.

Hawaii trip. 700 pictures. To be sorted later.

San Francisco trip. 200 pictures. Later.

Birthday pictures. 15 of the 90 pictures have the same facial expression with cake smeared on. To be sorted later.

Bits and bytes and kilobytes and gigabytes of pictures. Later.

The irony is, if you don’t sort it now, you never feel like sorting it later. If you don’t upload it now, you never feel like uploading it later.

Message to self: stop clicking in paranoia as if the mountain is going to collapse the next moment. Enjoy the view first. Don’t take more than one picture of the same thing. And remember, the quality is not in numbers.