this is nostalgia-a picture of tuesday.

yesterday i made a trip to target.

i looked at the guy under dimly-lit grayness by the photo “developing” area.  i smelled the ever-so-familiar aroma of chemically flavored popcorn at the snack bar.  i used to beg my mom to buy me an overly-salted bag of goodness while we waited for our pictures.

the guy wasn’t busy.  i didn’t ask him any questions about his job, although i wish i did.  it would have been interesting to hear what the 18-ish employee might have had to say about his job and “developing”pictures.  i remember the day i went to target only to find they no longer processed film.  it was how i tolerated big stores and found humanity under fluorescent lighting.  it was an end to an era i really loved.

in fairness, people do develop their digital pictures, but the act doesn’t rival the ritual that i once so greatly enjoyed.  it was social, perhaps not as much as going to the video store on a saturday night, but you would see people you know.  you’d  fill out your information on the paper (doubles?  singles?), drop the roll in the envelope as you sealed it and detach the perforated tab with the code on it for when you retrieved your memories five or so days later.  for me, going to target to develop my pictures was an event i looked forward to.  i was happy when the roll finished and i’d hear the film rewind. there was anticipation.  and who could forget this scene in “parenthood’?  the mom gets her daughter’s photos by accident. this was something you wanted to avoid.

kodak chrome, the film i used so often (until about five years ago) is no more and instagram is widely popular, making new pictures instantly nostalgic but turning them into what most of our old albums look like now.  who has pinkish-yellow baby pictures?  every year my mom would make my sister and i an album.  now many of the pictures have stopped sticking to the pages of the albums and the plastic film has become detached no longer protects them when you turn the pages.  i can still see the years and moments of my life labeled in my mom’s notable handwriting.  “alice’s first day of school, second grade” (my cat, figaro was in the background and i was in a blue dress), “carving pumpkins” (my dad making his best ghoulish grimace at the camera while he pointed the knife into the pumpkin), “trip to louisiana” (my grandparents and my cousin in front of the camper).

i remember the smell.  i remember the scent of the film when i rolled it out into the camera, careful not to expose it.  i took so many pictures but was careful not to waste a shot on a subject that might not be worthy.  a week or so later, there was the excitement of getting the film back, of pulling each photo out of its’ paper holder quickly and voraciously, perhaps finding something i hadn’t remembered shooting or the disappointment of exposed film on a few of the negatives.

this was just like my first camera.  and, who remembers the best predessesor to digital pictures?

wish i had a polaroid now.

a year ago, i found all of the photos i’d taken while living in italy for five years buried and semi-archived, in a damp basement.  i had left them there temporarily when i came back the the us. they were too heavy to take in my suitcase.  they are still too expensive to send and now theyare dusty and moldy.  some of them stick together.  yet, peeling through the collections, i reveled in the memories of a life i left behind awhile ago.  it was a physical act of touching memories i’d neglected for many years.

college. high school. elementary school.  now i rely on facebook tags to see my non-digital memories.  i don’t own a scanner.  and even if i did, most of the photos i so laboriously took over the course of 20-some years are in a box in italy or in my parent’s garage.  contrary to the post’s sappy  nostalgia for film cameras and their glory, i do heart my digital camera.  i was skeptical, yes, when troy k. brought his digital camera to my new year’s get-together that one snowed-in last day of 2000.  he took grainy shots of us sledding:  instant and untouchable and i didn’t like that camera at all.  ten years later i rely heavily on my digital camera for so many things.  i rarely, if it’s not to send pictures to my grandma, develop the shots, even the ones i really enjoy.  i load them to facebook.  i used to pride myself on the albums i’d make.  i have a few pictures stashed here and there, never making their way into some kind of touchable archive.

my grandma still goes to walmart to have her pictures “made” or reprinted.  she has a digital frame the the grandkids gave her a few years ago that she loves but her 87-year-old self loves to go over old photos with us.  tangible photos of her and my grandaddy on their trips.  or pictures of the cousins with dorothy hamil/mary lou reton haircuts.  i love thinking of her as she stops to collect her thoughts and memories as she fingers the the pictures on tin or thick paper of her parents and grandparents.

the idea of the show is to have a slideshow of old and new pictures.  i lament that i don’t have mine although i’m not sad to have misplaced the horrible fifth grade class  picture of mrs. finney’s funny bunch.  i wore pink foam curlers for the first time the night before to create my “look”.  it was so bad.  in the morning i took out the rollers and had shirley temple hair.  except that 1) i was nowhere near as cute as her and 2) that wasn’t exactly the style in california in 1990.

so, we’ve talked about technology’s affect on us, how it’s transformed our lives.  how has photography and it’s evolution changed us?

thank you for sharing your pictures.  please feel free so send more at or upload them to the facebook page.


6 Responses to “this is nostalgia-a picture of tuesday.”
  1. Nathan says:


  2. k.c says:

    I miss “getting pictures” the old way, too. Am I the only one who browsed through others’ photos at Target sometimes? LOL. I do have a scanner, but it’s in a box and I’ve never even opened it, so I haven’t got any way right now to get old pics online. I love seeing others’ old photos, but I would cringe to see myself again at an especially awkward stage, LOL. Some things are better left in a box, haha!

    • project1979 says:

      no! get that scanner out and show those bad bangs for the whole world to see! (not sure if you actually did have bad bangs, though).
      i am sure i was naughty once in awhile and looked at other’s pictures…

  3. K. Crafton says:

    *sigh* I was good friends with the woman who developed my film…I miss her! I saw her every week, got to know her family, she got to know mine. She even knew I was pregnant before my parents did because she developed the picture of the test! lol I still can’t get rid of my Poloroid camera though. I’ve had that since I was 13 and just have way too many fond memories of whipping it out at parties and having a ball. Ahhhhh good times!

    • project1979 says:

      it’s funny how we take pictures now…what i observe is that more people have cameras or cameras on their phones so every event seems a bit paparazzi-like. in addition, i find myself spending a lot of time looking at the screen to check out the picture i just took instead of moving on and being part of the situation i am photographing. just got a bigger memory card to help with that. the converse of that is the instant freedom to delete a picture with the dreaded double chin or devil eyes. a lot of the time i think we are “developing” on the spot and thus kind of miss out on the experience we want to document.

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