OPINION: When a wait was part of photography’s magic

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
We now review our photos instantly thanks to technology.
Camera IconWe now review our photos instantly thanks to technology. Credit: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

Is good-old fashioned photography a thing of the past?

Only people born before 1990 (roughly) will remember what I am about to talk about — good old-fashioned film photography.

You know, having to physically go to the shop, buy a camera film, load it, take your snaps, all the while not knowing if you’d got the right shot.

There was no digital image to peruse, no option to delete and try again. You had 24 or 36 tries and that was that.

Then it was time to unload and take the film to the chemist for processing, and the real fun began — handing over your precious film and waiting, waiting, waiting.

I do remember if you paid a premium price you could get them back in an hour, but for the most part it was the next day.

Then the day came of the great reveal — the anxious journey to the chemist or newsagent and the excitement of flicking through your final snaps.

Sometimes the inevitable realisation that some of the shots were not exactly as planned, and even a few may have been taken by someone else as their idea of a joke.

I still have hundreds of pictures I took and just as many that older relatives took and passed on to me. They are truly treasured memories.

Now, we have all of this literally at our fingertips.

Our smartphones, digital cameras and tablets make the trips to the chemist a thing of the past and the thought of developing films for photos is mostly a thing of the past.

My own children and the students I teach are truly baffled by the thought of waiting to see what a photo looks like. They really are the “instant fix” generation.

I do enjoy flicking through my camera roll and my photos, and I love sitting down with the family and watching videos of them as little kids, but it’s just not the same.

There is something very special about getting a photo album off the shelf and flicking through the pages, looking at photos of times gone by, even remembering taking the photo itself and any drama associated with getting that film printed.

With all the advantages that technology gives us, it also takes things away.

We get the convenience and the ability to make a mistake and correct it, but we lose some of the reward for an effort made.

We lose something quite special in the trade-off for our instant-result culture.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails