Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where has all the glamour gone?

I love to take pictures--especially of people (my children in particular). I have taken thousands of pictures over the past thirty years. I started out with a cheap Instamatic camera, then advanced to a cheap Kodak 35 mm one. Every time I took my film in to be developed, I ordered double prints so that I could send photos of my kids on to their grandparents--crossing my fingers, hoping that there were some decent shots in there. (There were usually some real duds, and even the good ones were often dark, overlit, or just plain blurry and grainy.)

I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven when my husband gave me my first digital camera as a Mother's Day gift in 2003. To be able to delete the bad ones and zoom and crop the good ones--what a joy! The clarity! The color! The instant gratification! (All little ones nowadays immediately say, "Let me see!" and grab for the camera the second you've taken their picture!) How had I survived twenty years of raising my beautiful boys, I wondered, without this marvelous invention that would have captured their every expression so perfectly? But better late than never. When I looked at the digital action shots I snapped during my boys' high school lacrosse games, I felt like a Sports Illustrated photographer. I could never have gotten pictures like those with my old-fashioned cameras.

We think we've come such a long way with photography, and it's true, we have. But my very favorite portrait photos will always be those glamourous black-and-white head shots from the forties and fifties. Just look at the picture of my grandmother, my mother's mother, at the top right of this page. She looks like a movie star. And that's my mother on the top left--as you can see, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Of course, she would have been gorgeous no matter what type of camera snapped this shot (she's 75 now and still gorgeous), but still. On the bottom right is my mother-in-law, a stunning Irish beauty in a simple white blouse and a string of pearls. So classy and elegant. Was everyone a movie star back then?

I've always thought I was born a little too late, that the world has gotten too modern for me. When I look at these beautiful images of the women in my family, I am transported to another time. I wish I had just one fifites-style black-and-white photo of myself to put beside the ones of these women; but I'm not very photogenic, so even fifties photography may not have been able to give me that aura of glamour!

Well, the glamour may be gone, but all in all, I'm glad we're in the age of digital photography. I have two grandchildren on the way, and I hope they're ready for their close-ups!

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