In 1968 Dad bought a new Kodak 126 instamatic camera with easy-load cartridge film to shoot state-of-the-art color photos. He and Mom captured moments of my brothers and me on birthdays and holidays. They snapped multiple pictures of our dogs, Scamper and Quimby. They recorded visits from extended family with posed family group shots. And when we traveled for our annual trip to my grandmother’s home, they took pictures of us along Rt. 66 and, of course, on my grandmother’s porch.
Dad snapped the twenty-four pictures available on the cartridge and dropped it off at a local camera store to be developed. It was not until he picked them up that we could see which ones were keepers.
I always thought Dad could have taken better pictures. If he had only used the person or main subject in the photo as the central focus, the photo would have looked better. I noticed that people were in the far corner or side of the picture and clutter was in the forefront.
Perusing through family photo albums lately I began to cherish all that clutter because I enjoy seeing the pictures of the Magic Chef Oven that Mom cooked and baked on for at least thirty years. I relish seeing the electric percolator that Mom and Dad used daily to brew their coffee for their early morning caffeine fix. I see the white Sunbeam Mixmaster that mom used endlessly beating and mashing together cookies, cakes and potatoes. With this picture I can see what kind and color of carpet and curtains we had in the living room. I see the record player we used to stack and play our 45’s and LP’s in the background of many of our pictures.
Using my digital camera I have always prided myself in the fact that I focused on people and eliminated all the background clutter. And with photo editing I can crop and eliminate the clutter in the pictures which I thought always made the picture look better.
But I think I’ll change that a bit now. I won’t completely give up the close up shots but will definitely begin to take more pictures of the surrounding area so my great-grandchildren may see in the pictures my Nutribullet I use to make a smoothie; the laptop I use for storing and editing pictures, recording stories and surfing the internet; the remote controls used for the television mounted on the wall and the colors, curtains and furniture used today.
Pull out your old family album and take a look past the person in it. It would be a perfect start to Keeping Your Memories of your childhood by writing about the clutter you see in the picture and what special memories it brings to mind.