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Say Cheese!

When my kids were little, my parents lived several hours away. In order to share milestones and everyday changes we had to write letters and mail them – with stamps – and include printed photographs – which came from developing little round rolls of film.

Today, fortunately for me, I live just a few miles from both of my kids and my wonderful grandchildren. I know many other grandparents, however, who are a car trip – or even a plane ride away. Facebook, Skype and digital photos are the means to keep relatives up-to-date with those everyday moments – and growing-up images.

That set me thinking – we are spoiled.

Do you remember all these steps we had to take when wanting to take/view/send photos of our then-young kids?

Taking a photo, circa 1985

1. Get our your camera. And maybe a flash cube. (not flash drive!)

It might be an “instamatic” that focused for you  - and you might have to buy flash cubes to put on it to add light to a picture.

2. Load the camera with film. Little canisters of film you had to buy separately.

I remember thinking – will I take enough pictures to use up a whole roll of 36 shots? Or should I buy the cheaper 24 shot roll so I can develop them and not have to either wait – or waste untaken shots.

3. Hope that you really DID load the film?

In some models, you had to actually open the cameras to “see” if the film was loaded. If you had remembered to load the film – all the shots showing at that time were ruined. But – If you didn’t load the film – maybe it was better to find that out now.

4. Take the shot. Hope nobody blinks.

No need to focus unless you had an actual 35mm camera (one that took film). The light was a guess. Use a flash cube? 35mm cameras had add-on strobe lights to add light to a shot. You didn't know if anyone's eyes were closed until you performed Step 7.

5. Wait until the roll is finished.

Or, waste any shots you didn’t take. You had to "afford" to buy that film.

6. Develop the film. Paying $$.

You had to take the canister out of the camera and take it to a developer. Some even had special-purpose photo “huts” in parking lots – similar to a drive-through coffee shop.

7. Wait for – and then pick up the photos.

No preview on your camera. You didn’t really know what the shot would look like until you picked up the developed film. No do-overs if there were closed eyes or shaky shots.

8. Save the negatives.

If you wanted to get a copy of one of the pictures, you had to have the negative it was developed from. Then, negative in hand, you would return to the developer and repeat steps 6 & 7.

Now, in our spoiled digital world

Of course the steps we take are quite a bit different today.

1. Camera? Or should I just use my phone. Or my tablet. Or my phablet?

We use our multipurpose smart phones, tablets or digital SLR cameras. They are usually close at hand so any moment can be a "Kodak Moment." (Kodak was a company that made film that you bought in step 2 above!)

2. Look at the picture. Right now. In real time.

We can instantly see the picture taken. Red eye? Some devices auto-correct that. If we want copies, we can print them on local printers in our homes – or electronically send them to any number of stores and pick them up in just an hour.

3. Copies? We can email, text or post them.

Our whole family can see – pretty immediately. Important shots like this one:

Keeping up is just a digital blip away.

There are so many pictures that we take and share that simply would not have been thought of as "film-worthy" when my kids were young. Goofy, spontaneous pictures that really capture the emotion and the personality of my family.

I think I like being photographically spoiled.

Sue Klein

Sue is a mom of two, grandmother of four and daughter to her own mother. She blogs about all things 'grandma.' ...

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