Living Matters: No camera and film, and apparently no rules either

I was on a ferry, waiting to disembark.

The woman in front of me stepped out of her vehicle and began to take pictures.

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She took a shot of the ocean. I got that.

She took a shot of a seagull. I got that.

She took a shot of what appeared to be some garbage underfoot. That, I did not get.

“Look at that woman,” I said to the husband. “Why did she just take a picture of that paper bag? And that piece of rope? And that candy wrapper?”

The husband looked up from his phone.

“No idea,” he said. “It’s art, I suppose.”

I had no idea either. But I do know that these days, people are inclined to take pictures of anything and everything they see. Worms. Staplers. Weeds. Nail clippers. Remote controls.

Now I’m no judge of what constitutes art — for all I know, nail clippers may represent the height of all things artistic — but back in the day, people took a different approach to photography.

For one thing, they did not take pictures with their phones, mainly because phones were not equipped to take pictures. They used things called cameras, which were loaded with rolls of something called film. When your roll of film was full, you would take it to a camera store, and return a few days later to be handed an envelope of pictures, as well as a sleeve of something called negatives.

The pictures, which tended not to be of worms or weeds, but more pedestrian subject matter — like people, say — were then attached to the pages of something called a photo album, courtesy of gummy-backed silver picture corners.

You did not share them the way the ferry woman almost certainly did, which was to blast them out on social media for all the world to see. Even if I had been able to share them that way, I would never have been convinced that the world would have wanted to see them.

Instead, when someone popped by — say, to return a book that I’d loaned them — I might have inquired, ever so meekly, whether the individual would be interested in seeing the photos I’d picked up, oh, of my trip to the island or my college graduation.

Never in a million years would I have found myself hauling out pictures — unsolicited, no less — of candy wrappers or remote controls.

That would have been considered, well, weird.

But, alas, times have changed. I wouldn’t have the foggiest where to pick up gummy-backed picture corners, assuming they still exist.

These days, anything goes as far as subject matter is concerned. A discarded lunch bag on the deck of a ferry? I’m far from artistic, but that’s pretty strange. I’d rather take pictures of people.

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