The word “snapshot” originated as a hunting term long before the invention of the handheld camera.
It referred to firing quickly at an object without taking aim.
The term took on new meaning in the early 1900s after George Eastman invented the Brownie camera.
As I sorted through a stack of photographs recently, the word snapshot came to mind as a perfect description of those photographic moments – the memories – frozen in time.
(Before I continue, let me share something many people already know about me: I don’t enjoy taking pictures and I’m not very good at it. Fortunately, in my work at the Daily Journal that aspect of the job hasn’t been too demanding.)
What I do like about photos, though, is the feelings and memories looking at pictures evokes.
As we prepared recently for an event during which I would see many of my family members, I dug through several boxes and envelopes looking for particular picture collections that I knew would bring smiles to the faces of a couple of cousins.
In one photo a cousin was a round-cheeked child of about 5 or 6, standing outside with other cousins and playmates at a family reunion. Today she’s the mother of a son who is planning his wedding in a couple of months.
Another cousin who grew up in the Washington, D.C. area was my best buddy when I lived there. She and I went to music concerts together, and liked to watch “Wheel of Fortune” and “Star Search” with Ed McMahon long before “American Idol”, “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice” existed.
The collection of old pictures I gathered for her included a picture I took of her and one she took of me at a weekend-long music festival in Richmond, Virginia. During one 12-hour day we saw Ashford and Simpson, Gladys Knight and The Pips, and Earth, Wind and Fire on the same stage. Those were the days…
During the past several years the committee I work with to plan a biannual homecoming event has made it a practice to engage a photographer to take candid photos. We may not know everyone in the photos, but some family members who attend the event always recognize people they know and may not have seen for a long time. It’s always fun to hear their stories about times they’ve shared and events of those bygone days.
Much as I love being able to photographically revisit past times and places, it hasn’t instilled in me a habit of remembering to capture memories in snapshots. There have been vacations and events during which my camera – or my cell phone, which I particularly chose for its great camera – has been in my purse, and I’ve still forgotten to take a single picture.
I’m hoping my plan to sort my stockpile of pictures, putting some in frames and others in albums, will motivate me to make picture-taking a top priority.
Those pictures could someday help family and friends revisit fond memories too.
Lena Mitchell is the Daily Journal Corinth Bureau reporter and writes a Sunday column each month. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.