For as long as I can remember, photography has been a part of my life.
When I was younger and we visited my grandparents in Philadelphia, I remember going on a walk with my grandfather to those old-school Fotomat places so he could drop film off to be developed. The Fotomat places were those ones that used to be in parking lots. Small buildings that took the Kodak colors and were a drive-thru setup for film and developing.
Obviously, these are not needed anymore.
Still, it’s a bit of nostalgia and whenever I see one of these, It brings back some memories.
I even wonder what happened to all the photos my grandfather had developed there. And what they were of and all that goodness.
Photography, as a whole has changed immensely over the years.
One of my first jobs in the newspaper industry was at a local weekly paper and as part of my job, I got an extra stipend each week to be the “darkroom technician.” Basically, I developed everybody’s black-and-white film and made prints for the newspaper to use.
If I think back enough, I can still smell the chemicals and think about the time spent in the darkroom with those red lights and all of that. It didn’t pay a lot, but it was a cool experience I’ll never forget.
Nowadays, it’s all digital. Though every once in a while I think it’s fun to pop out an old camera and fire off a roll or two of film, it’s a pain. With phones and compact digital cameras and digital SLRS … there’s instant gratification of images. You can see your lighting and focus and correct things to make sure they are correct. Then you can edit – on your phone or computer with something like Photoshop – and make photos look incredible.
I remember all the little tricks in the darkroom one could do to make sure things were darker or lighter in certain parts. It was almost like magic.
Snapshots are definitely different now, though.
A roll of film was 24 or 36 exposures. You had no idea what your images would look like until the film was developed.
Imagine that? Those old Fotomats got your prints back in 24 hours. I’m not sure if today’s generation could handle that!
I think of some of the photos I took with film in my early days of sports photography. One shot stands out. A local team made it to the state championship in girls soccer and I was there. It was bitter cold out and mounds of snow around the field, which was turf, if I remember right. That was much more rare in that era – 1995ish – for high schools to have.
The team I was covering got a direct kick just outside the penalty box and it was on the side of the field where I was standing. I aimed and was ready and as the girl kicked, I snapped … and got the ball a few feet in front of her and her follow through. It was a good shot and even better was … the shot ended up as the winning goal for the state title.
Needless to say, her parents requested several prints.
If that was current days, I’d probably have about 50 consecutive images of the shot, trying to capture it at the perfect moment … and there’d probably be a dozen or so other people who have different angles and launch points of the shots.
Times, they’ve changed.
I still like the look and feel of old snapshots. They capture a moment in time that may never be duplicated. When you look at real old images, the moments are that much more precious because of how hard it was to capture these images and moments.
And though I still love looking back and seeing great snapshots, I’ll stick with the digital world as we are in an instant gratification society. I’ll take the ability to see what I am doing to make corrections quickly and still be able to get most of the images that I’d like to capture.
So what do you think of the snapshot world today as compared to yesteryear?
This post is part of the 2020 20 Days of Chill Writing Challenge hosted by A ‘lil HooHaa. Please check out the link if you’d like to see others or join in. You don’t have to do every theme if you don’t want! And for those participating, take a moment and check out the other participants!
20 Days of Chill: 2020 Day 12