Photography of changes, changes in photography

Where are the photos of yesteryear?

Photo of Papa Zesser, circa age 3.
Detail of a portrait of Papa Zesser, taken (I’m guessing, but it’s an educated guess) circa 1968.

Sunday night after my weekly 7-aside co-ed soccer game, one of my newish team-mates, Bernadette, mentioned that she was “… exactly 20 years old.” I missed the question that prompted that announcement – Is today your birthday? it occurred to me to ask sometime after I got home – but it came also as a reminder of (you guessed it!) my own mortality. I was 34 years old when a woman I play soccer with was born.

Sobering stuff …

Photo of the top of Baobao's head.
My sweet Baobao’s delicate, nearly fractal ,hair.

But it also got me to thinking about some of the less morbid aspects of the Great and Inevitable March of Time. To wit: photography.

The picture you see at the top of this post is one of me, which appears to have been taken by a professional photographer, presumably at a photo-studio, or maybe at Eaton’s in Montreal. (My mum might know; if I remember, I’ll ask her next time I see or speak with her, and enter her answer as a comment below.)

Close-up photo of Raven holding Asta's foot in the cup of her hand.
Raven’s finger, her foot. Noticeably bigger at almost six weeks is still awfully damned small.

Why yes, I do digress.

Point being, it hit me that there are probably fewer than 200 hundred photographs of me kicking around that date to before the year 2000. Probably fewer than 50 – maybe a lot fewer than 50 – from before I turned 14.

Photo of Raven's finger against Baobao's foot.
Baobao’s foot, my finger. Photo by Raven.

My parents weren’t big on picture-taking period, but …

In those days, young person, photography was also an expensive hobby. Film was expensive; developing the film was expensive and you had to develop every shot on a “roll of film” (unless you were a serious hobbyist and did it yourself – in which case it was a little less expensive but also toxic), so even the lousy shots cost you money! Seriously. That’s what the world was like not so very long ago at all.

Bernadette (my soccer team-mate) has of course known only the digital reality; there are likely thousands, if not tens of thousands of pictures of her kicking around on her various digital devices, as well as whatever she’s uploaded to various sites online.

Close-up photo of Baobao's face, taken from above.
Yes, that’s basically acne. One of the many things I’ve learned is that the estrogen in mother’s milk has similar effects to what the hormones that get set loose during adolescence do. Who knew!?!

Now, if you’re thinking that Papa Zesser is about to go all shaking fist at clouds on you, think again. Sure, i sometimes think that people – cough! my sweet Raven! cough! – would be well-served by putting away their phones and just living in the moment from time to time, but nothing good comes without a cost to something or someone, somewhere along the line. And if she wants to take pictures of something that I am happy to merely watch and record in my minds’ eye, well, let people take their pleasures as pleases ‘em.

Photo of Baobao asleep in Papa Zessr's arm.
Why yes, besides being brave and brilliant, she’s pretty cute, too!

All of which is to say: I kind of wish there were more photos of my childhood. And of my adolescence, and beyond, pretty much up until the turn of the millenium, when I bought a *gasp* 4 megapixel digital camera.

So, I hope you didn’t mind this post of self-indulgent picspam. My brave and brilliant daughter will turn six weeks old tomorrow, and I’d like to celebrate visually (the pics were all taken by Raven, by the way; she has a steadier hand than I).

And speaking of things that don’t exist from my childhood, here is a video of me imparting some important religious knowledge to my daughter.

Hey there! Since you’re reading my daughter’s correspondence, why not …

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