I've been searching thorough my archive of digital photographs this evening looking for photographs to print.
Dipping way back into my cache from my first digital camera, a Casio QV-3000EX, the first thing that struck me is how far the technology has come since the turn of the millenium when that model first appeared. The 3.3 megapixel sensor on that model produced images that are serviceable but reveal numerous flaws on close examination today – at the time, however, I was just knocked out by it. Such is the inevitability of obsolescence. Apart from the sensor itself, the low quality of the lens is now very apparent to my spoiled eye.
But does that matter at all? No. A photograph is as much an historical record as a work of art and technology and as such is unique and irreplaceable. The image you see above, a seemingly ordinary view out of an upstairs window onto a front garden, is of deep significance to me.
It was taken on the very last day in the house in Guildford, England, where I spent most of my childhood and teenage years. August 22, 2002 at 8.51 a.m. – such is the precision of the digital record. At the time I did not know it was going to be so, but on that August day began the upheavals that led to my parents moving out and, I, back in America, never had an opportunity to return before the house was finally sold.
So that photograph has a strange poignancy that is all the odder given that it was never intended as a farewell picture. The large chestnut tree in the background was grown by me as a very young child from seed, and was transplanted from the little apartment garden where it first grew. The view itself is from my old bedroom looking out over the garage roof, a view I saw daily for a large part of my life.
A different time and a different place. Now gone, and that is as it should be. Nothing endures for ever. But there is that photograph, a reminder of times gone. I could delve deeper into the emotions that accompany it and find very mixed feelings, but the time for those feelings has passed too.
This is a good thing.