Developing images

I only wanted to upload a couple photos from the microSD card. It was going to be faster than sending the images one by one from my stupidphone.

I didn’t realize that the card had photos from both Nancy and me, from last night and from 2008. And because the numbering scheme of the phones we use is odd, all those years were mixed together.

There was a photo of my dad, gone for almost three years. There were good photos from seasons I’ve not wanted to remember. There were images from events I’ve forgotten. Most images triggered stories.

hans katieI used to process my own black and white film. I’d take the pictures. I’d put the film cartridge and developing tank into a black bag, about the size of a plastic grocery bag, and zip it closed. I’d reach through the armholes, which had elasticized wrists like a windbreaker.  I’d fumblingly load the film onto a reel and put it into the developing tank. Back in the light, I’d pour in the chemicals, developer, stop bath, fixer. I’d rinse it forever. And finally, I could open the tank and see whether the shooting worked, whether the processing was right.

The processing is much simpler now, from a technology perspective. But with the simplicity of shooting, I think I’m losing the capacity to keep up with the processing. Memories take developing, just like pictures. And if I keep shooting and don’t stop to process, to develop, to reflect, to consider, I’m missing something.

“Remember the Sabbath,” we read, “to keep it holy.” Tell the stories, remember where you came from, remember where you are going. Stop only creating new experiences. Reflect on the ones you already have, lest you get caught up in novelty.

Stop taking images. Instead take time to develop images.

And relationships.

6 thoughts on “Developing images

  1. Sandi

    The picture developing analogy was defining for me. I am so quick to click,but no longer have to take the next step to be sure it is developed and placed in the album. Without this process I do not allow myself the opportunity to reflect…process thoughts of the moment….and develop those memories… turn I also handle daily routine in the same manner click/complete the task and move on….growth takes reflection,processing and development if it be in relationship building or character building. Thanks Jon, today your writing made me do some mind weeding.


  2. Hans Schiefelbein (@HSchiefelbein)

    I’m somewhere in the middle. I have a digital journal of pics and memories that’s going really well – I’ve strategically taken one every day since January 8! But as you say, the reflection still isn’t where it should be. Taking the memory is there, reflecting is not.

    I think less is more here. I will use this post as a prompt to develop relationships.

    P.S. That’s a very pretty lady in the pic above. Glad she married me! The pic will always remain near and dear to me, my friend. Thanks for bringing it back 🙂


    1. Jon Swanson

      Hans, the idea of strategically taking a picture is significant. Too often, I shoot just in case. Because it’s easy. And the result is a pile of images (or input) which then becomes overwhelming. Where do I start with the sorting?

      And it was a very good evening, that was.


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