Photos With Personal Value

I got a photography class from my parents for x-mas, bless them. It finally started last night, and I sneaked into the school wondering what the whole thing would be like. The great thing about night classes is the mix of people; a women just wanting to take a good picture of the birds outside her house, someone of the food they cook, an old man in a bright red beret announcing that he had a great project that he would not tell us about because we would steal it, but we were all welcome to read about it in his book ten years from now. One man had been on a safari in Africa in November, and so much enjoyed taking photos that he wanted to learn more. It made me think of Mia* and her trip that she has been blogging about, and I almost asked him if he knew her.

The class itself was nice too; of course the teacher went over the different ways of exposing a picture in terms of aperture, shutter and ISO. But he also talked about the photos in themselves, and different values one can ascribe it. I don’t know how these values would usually be called in English, but I guess I would translate it into personal, stylistic and interpretational values. It felt like being back in my literature studies.

I found the discussion about photos with personal value most interesting. Those kinds of pictures that really only have any value to me or people close to me; family and friends eating lunch outside in the sun during midsummer, the tiny birds out by the summer cabin (oh gawd, fuzzy pictures of tiny birds from too far away!), endless rolls of people having Christmas dinner year after year. They don’t even have to look great, they can still hold a value.

Now, those fuzzy photos of the tiny birds from too far away meant a lot to me when I was a kid. My grandpa and I used to feed them and they ate out of our hands. They used to follow him around when he did the gardening, sitting on his shoulders. I liked them, so I took photos, and I enjoyed those photos, when I was 10.

The thing, though, with photos of personal value is that the value can decrease. These days I’m not that interested in the photos of the fuzzy birds, I’m more interested in finding old photos of my grandfather. They mean more to me.

All the photos we take during vacation generally only have a value to the people that actually went on vacation. A picture of, say, the bottle of olive oil at that restaurant does not tickle the memories in someone who wasn’t there to taste it.

And then we start to forget. One great photo can awaken all the memories again, but some photos are just rendered useless when we can’t really put them in context any more.

Like this photo, from 1986-87, of a small Swedish band that are performing in an amusement park we visited on one of our vacations. Back then, when the context was still fresh, this photo was probably great fun to look at. Today nobody in my family has a connection to that band or their music. It just doesn’t matter that much anymore.

But pictures with personal value can loose it and gain it back, with time. Something forgotten is rediscovered and a whole new layer is added. Not necessarily to anyone else, but to oneself.

This is me watching the concert, and looking at it I can remember how I felt.

This band had a song that was played on the radio, and I got see them play. I’m pretty sure this is the first pop concert I ever saw. I only knew the one song, and they played a whole lot of other songs I hadn’t heard before and I didn’t care about before THAT song. I was frustrated and then I was happy. I knew the lyrics, I could sing along.

I don’t think this particular photo had a lot of impact in our family albums when I grew up. I can’t remember ever seeing it before, but I found it now, and I love it. It has a lot of personal value to me. And I just made you read about it. Sorry!


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