Where Do Deleted Photos Go?

I went to the International Center of Photography recently and was surprised to find that in two floors of exhibition, only a small section of around 7 photographs was presented as prints.  The rest of the images were shown on digital screens. 

Perhaps my shock says more about me than the ICP, and at the risk of sounding like an old fart, I can’t help but think something is lost when photos are presented on a screen.  The images have a transient, ethereal quality to them, making them more disposable. 

In fact, they are just that.  We are all used to taking a bunch of pictures on our phones and deleting the bad ones.  (Is there a giant warehouse somewhere full of deleted pictures?)

But it’s more than that.  A print has its own history that it carries on its surface as a patina and scratches and creases.  It has a scent, and fades, perhaps unevenly over time.  It may have passed through many hands, and lives in a place and time in people’s memories.

There is a photograph of my mother as a young child that was hung on different walls as we moved from house to house as kids.  The photo was taken before I was born, but I have memories of that image that are anchored to the parts of my life that are attached to each of those houses.   Now the picture hangs in my sister’s house.

A print has soul, and these memories are carried in the soul of the print.

If you love a picture, have an archival print made by a professional photographer, and hang it on the wall.

What I think of when I walk the dog.

A long time ago, an old girlfriend and I went out for a walk with her dog.  She tugged on him every time he stopped.  I don’t think either of them was very happy.

Recently, while out walking my dog, Nemo, a friend remarked that I wasn’t being very alpha. Nemo had veered off course, leading me to something that had caught his eye (nose).

This is a deliberate policy on my part.  I figure Nemo spends most of the day fitting himself around our time and our schedules, so when we go for a walk, he gets to be boss and decide what we do.  He can sniff for as long as he wants, and  choose the route.

I used to make the most of this “dead time” by phoning friends.  When I rang, they would ask me if I was out walking the dog.  It became a running joke.

Nemo always knows what’s going on, though. My wife’s old flatmate, Alex said he realized this when he came home one day in a funk and Nemo came over and put his head on Alex’s lap.  On the rare occasion that my wife and I argue, he’ll come over and nudge me, like a little kid telling his parents to stop fighting.

With Nemo being so intuitive, I figured he’d know I’m not engaged if I’m on the phone, much in the way I can tell if someone is typing when I talk to them on the phone.  So now I don’t do that.  I single task.  When I’m out with Nemo, I’m out sharing time with him, enjoying the evening light or the cooling of the day.  My wife and I take him together on what we call “family walks.” It’s transformed something that had become a bit of a chore into a daily meditation and precious time shared with a friend.

The Wisdom of Dogs

The Wisdom of Dogs

There's something I've learned from Nemo I call The Wisdom of Dogs.  It's to do with an unspoken friendship, a shared joy, the preciousness of time.

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