Last month, due to a file transfer glitch, I lost all my cell phone photos from the past year.
I had taken a lot of pictures–maybe three or four hundred. I tried troubleshooting, but as far as I could tell, they were just gone, vanished into the ether between the phone and the computer.
At first I was shaky and stunned. A whole year, gone.
I don’t usually take pictures of people, so I didn’t lose precious baby photos or anything like that, but I love shooting day-to-day photos around my city, my garden, architecture, and far-flung locations when we travel. (We’d gone on one international vacation in that year. It was the only time we brought our full-scale digital camera. So I didn’t lose all evidence of our trip.)
But by a few days later, I felt much calmer.
It’s true that not all the photos were exactly gone. I’m on Instagram and post often, so many of the photos survived there, though only in a low-res, square format.
It may also be true, as my spouse pointed out, that I took so many photos that no single one was particularly special to me.
But I think something else is going on.
Theory the first: I use photography as a form of mindfulness, to remind myself to look for moments of beauty in my not-particularly-beautiful urban life. It’s why I enjoy Instagram challenges, taking a photo roughly every day for a month. It’s a form of self-care. The …