The curious relationship between photographers and loss

I spent a good deal of yesterday, in my head, thinking. 

It started with brownies - no, not those brownies, these were super healthy chocolate-free carob brownies. 

My successful attempt at carob brownies. Photo by Christa Galloway.

As a professional photographer and an amateur baker, when my baking goes well, I enjoy photographing my baked goods as much as eating them.

I downloaded my card in eager anticipation of showing the world my baking success. I waited while my photo editing program imported the photos. Only it didn't import them. Upon further investigation I discovered that my card was corrupted.

After having no luck with the card rescue program on my computer and several others I downloaded I sent out a plea for help on Facebook and with the advice of an old photographer friend (that is, a friend from a long time ago, not a friend who is old) I managed to recover most of my images with the regrettable absence of most of my brownie photos.

I've just edited my pictures, and while they are not award winning shots, I am beyond pleased to have them back. The idea of having lost them, even though they weren't "important" was a horrible thought.

This made me think. I have a theory of why some photographers do what they do. It's about loss. 

Have you ever looked back at some photos and remembered a feeling or a smell and it was like you were there again? Almost like for an instant you could travel back in time and experience it again? Did you realise that if that photo hadn't sparked your memory, that moment would be gone? I have, many times.

I think there is a type of photographer who mourns the loss of moments. We are like walking museums of time, soldiers against entropy. We gather little reminders here and there. We look at them, share them, store them and back them up. We put them together and build a story of the past. We don't live in the past, but we like to keep it safe and accessible.

If you are one of these photographers you probably have a camera with you most of the time. You don't just keep photos, you share them. The more people who see your photos, the more permanent and real the memory is. And if an image is lost, you feel like a piece of history is lost. A feeling, a memory, a lesson is gone forever.

That's why I do what I do. I take photos, I have scrapbooks going back to 1990, I keep a journal and I have this blog, mostly for that reason, to preserve memories.


Here are a couple of the photos I almost lost and the memories they keep alive for me.

When I took this photo I was getting ready for a shift and noticed the sun lighting the clouds from below. It struck me how early the sun was coming up in the morning and how long the days were getting. I went outside quickly to take the photo and sucked in the fresh air. I remember having the thought, "Whatever happens today, I have this." Photo by Christa Galloway.

This photo was taken as I was arriving at my house with my family. I jumped out of the car, grabbed my camera while my husband took care of our son and brought everything in from the car without complaint. I could see the ferocity of the storm while my surroundings were perfectly calm and sunny. This photo makes me think of how power and peace is a matter of perspective and reminds me to be grateful for my husband. Photo by Christa Galloway.

P.S. The brownies were fantastic.