Thursday, April 06, 2006

Delete, or not delete--that is the question

I am in the midst of an existential crisis, brought on by our digital camera.

That might be overstating things a bit ... but let me begin at the beginning so that you can see where I'm coming from. Nick and I were doing just fine with our traditional film camera and figured that it would last us several more years. Then, when Lucy was born, I didn't have any film on hand and my friend Michelle graciously lent us her digital camera for the hospital duration. It was fun. We enjoyed seeing the pictures instantly, and being able to email them out to anxious grandparents. With my next paycheck, I promptly went out and bought our own.

This is where things began to get complicated. You see, the problem with a digital camera is that you really can take as many pictures as you want. I've tried to delete the obviously bad ones before I load them onto our computer, but then there are those that you really need to see on a full screen to decide if they are worth keeping. However, once I load them on, they tend to stay there, good or bad. So now we have hundreds and hundreds of pictures, the majority of which feature little Lu.

I realize that I need to delete some. I realize that I will never in my lifetime print and scrapbook 1000 pictures of our baby. Even I wouldn't want to look at that many photos of her. But my tribal roots must be showing, because somehow I find it extremely difficult to delete photos of my child--I worry that I might want that particular one back, or that somehow my actions could be interpreted as not wanting Lucy around. (By the way, I have no problem deleting photos of myself. I just find the one or two that I think look the best from the event and zap! the rest are gone.)

I am a semi-rational human being. I realize the deletion of an image is not necessarily tied to the deletion of the object itself. I've read Benjamin (maybe that's the problem--"quantity has been transmuted into quality"). I don't even necessarily want to look at all of the photos, only know that I could if I wanted to.... Any suggestions? Am I alone in my inability to rationally navigate the implications of digitization for Lucy's existence? (I present this problem with self-depreciating irony, but at the same time I think there are some interesting questions here about how technology affects our conception of our mode of existence....)

PS These thoughts coalesced after reading JonnyF's experience with the vending machine--a sort of tribute to technological trials ...

5 comments:

Julie said...

I remember going through the same dilemma, only I was worried about trashing the bad pictures of Matthew. Luckily, my ultra clean instinct kicked in. We still have hundreds of pictures of Matthew. One thing that has helped me deal with the shear volume is dividing all the pictures into folders and sub-folders and sub-sub folders and sub-sub-sub folders . . . oh dear. We have the 1st Year folder, and within the first year is every month including a folder for birth, and within the folder for birth there is a folder for delivery, and so on and so on. It also helped us to format the folders as picture folders and then to change the folders to view as a filmstrip, so now we can scroll through all the pictures effortlessly (notice a hint of sarcasm). If you haven’t already done something like this, it may help.

For us, our picture taking has slowed down as Matthew has gotten older. He doesn’t seem to change as quickly and he doesn’t learn new tricks as quickly either. Or is it just our perspective? For whatever reason, the folders further on in the 1st year and now in the 2nd year aren’t as full unless they contain major events. Maybe you’ll find the same sad phenomenon.

nick said...

So now we have hundreds and hundreds of pictures, the majority of which feature little Lu.
And if by hundreds and hundreds you really mean thousands and thousands, then yes, you are correct. We have 2307 pictures, 85% of which are of Lucy, and 50 movies, 100% of which are of Lucy. If you figure Lucy has been alive almost 8 months, that is an average of about 10 pictures a day, EVERY DAY. New fathers everywhere beware.

On the bright side, if we had have taken this many pictures on regular film, it would have cost over 600 dollars, so I guess we've already saved over 300$, right?

Jenny said...

Julie--I think you're right. Learning how to manage the photos might make them seem, well, more manageable. And despite Nick's accurate numerical assesment of our photo situation (how embarrassing to have been wistfully thinking I was only dealing with hundreds of photos, when I'm actually dealing with thousands!), I do think that I'm tending to take fewer photos these days. Now I tend to pull out the camera for events (friends or relatives visiting, baby "firsts," etc.) rather than simply taking photos every day in amazement at the fact that A) we have a child and B) the child is growing and seems fairly happy.

Nick said...

Fewer? Au contraire ma-damn, we are now at 2343, which is 36 pictures more than last time, which means you're right on track of about ten per day.

All- I think we all need to have an intervention for my wife. That's a sign of addiction when you think you're "cutting back" but you're still bingeing like ever before. "But Nick, EVERYONE else is doing it! I can stop any time! Whats wrong with a just a few every now and then?" We've all heard it before Jenny. Just hand over the camera. Nice and slow....thats right....nice and slow....

erin said...

You know, I love to chuckle and I get so many opportunities here. (And you're right about wanting to say "chuckle"--you know you want to say it too.)