One of the criticisms often levelled at my generation is that we’re all about instant gratification and don’t have the patience to wait for things. As with many such criticisms, I don’t think it’s necessarily as simple as all that. In fact, while the modern world does make it easy to get many things straight away, there are still quite a lot of pleasures that you have to wait for. For instance you still can’t travel places instantly so the pleasure of the journey still exists. And don’t get me started on the tardiness of bands in starting gigs…
One other area that new technology has hardly sped up is photography. Sure, you don’t have to wait a week for the photo shop to process your film any more, but even if you’re shooting with digital you still have to get back to a computer to really see what your pics look like. But if you go back to really old school technology you can get that instant gratification and a real thrill with it too.
I’ve just come back from a most beautiful, intimate wedding held inland from Byron Bay. The now newlyweds told us before the day they didn’t really want presents because the logistics of their honeymoon and return to (overseas) jobs/home meant they’d just have to carry overly full
suitcases all over the place. Fair enough, but I still wanted to do something small that would remind them of their special day. I hit upon the idea of putting together a photo album with Polaroid photos from the wedding which the guests could sign. (My lovely man gave me a Polaroid 300 camera for Christmas and I’m always on the lookout for chances to use it.)
The novelty of the instant photos was a big hit among everyone on the day, even though all had digital cameras and were taking a multitude of photos — quite apart from the two official photographers at work all day. The old-fashioned technology delighted and everyone, from the groom’s grandmother to his tech- and camera-savvy younger brother wanted to wait the 30 seconds or so and watch the photos develop in front of their eyes. (So I guess it was instant gratification and delayed gratification all in one business card-sized photo package.) And the newlyweds we thrilled to have an instant keepsake of their day that they could take on their honeymoon.
As an aside, watching the delight of my fellow wedding guests as they watched the photos unfold in front of their eyes reminded me of something rock photographer Tony Mott told me when I interviewed him the other week. He said that while the digital age had its many benefits, he felt sorry for the new generation of photographers who’d never had the thrill of watching their photos emerge from nothing on the paper as they work in the darkroom. I understood that sentiment, I did a small amount of darkroom work when I first started picking up a camera and it was a sad day when the uni switched to digital photography and it became cumbersome to use the darkroom that was no longer properly stocked or set up. But perhaps these throwbacks to old technology can evoke some of that thill, those simple pleasures for the modern people.
(The photos above are not from the rainy Byron Bay wedding but from my wanderings around sunny Sydney in the preceding week.)