Today I collected over 650 photographs from Tesco's photo shop. That is a whole lot of photographs in anybody's book. Or should that be, album?
Collecting them was, of
course, the easy part. Now Mr B and I have to sit down and choose the very best. Without arguing. Without, indeed, Losing The Plot. Or the will to live.
The photographs were all taken by brother-in-law Baz
at our Golden Wedding in June. His photographic record covers the whole event from arrival at the Church to the Afternoon Tea Party in our back garden. It was on his advice that we took the memory stick to a photo shop and had the whole set printed - all 650+
of them - on the grounds that we would get a better deal in terms of price per photo. I'm prepared to concede this point - it's just that with twelve packets of photos laid out on our dining room table, both Mr B and I were feeling somewhat daunted.
My initial idea was to do a quick sift, discarding any photos in which one or the other of us is (i) grimacing; (ii) gazing absently into the distance; (iii) screwing up our eyes on account of the sun; or (iv) closing
our eyes altogether. We sat down together at the table, companionably, and started on packet number one.
Mr B said I was going way too fast for him. Could I please slow down? he requested. I know him well
enough to realise that this was an order, rather than a request. I did attempt to explain my theory about a "quick sift" and my criteria for initial selection but Mr B wasn't having any of it.
Should we then,
I suggested, start by selecting the best photographs of our guests - ones we would like to give them as a memento of the Happy Occasion? Mr B thought this might work but not if we tackled the task together, on account of the fact that I would doubtless adopt
my usual haphazard approach and fail to pay sufficient regard to his own preferences. We compromised by each taking different sets of photographs, then swapping over. This simply resulted in an unholy muddle of snaps on the table - not to mention the odd exchange
of snappy words.
The Darling Daughter in Law always bewails the fact that the advent of digital photography means that we rarely print off "real" photographs, sticking them in "real" photo albums - you know
the ones I mean, with hard covers and pages in which you can affix pictures with something called "photo corners." I know just what she means.
I do remember, however, the days when you finished a reel of film,
sent it off to be developed, waited an interminable length of time to have the developed photographs returned - only to face considerable disappointment when only a few of the photographs turn out to be "keepers." There is always that one precious photograph,
a One Chance Only to capture a person, a family, a scene of magnificent splendour - which falls some way short of expectations when you actually get to hold it in your hands. At least with digital photography you can check the result and take another picture,
and another, and another until you get it right - or until your subject gets fed up and wanders off.
It may be because of the sheer size of our immediate family but we seem to find it almost impossible to
get a Perfect Picture of us all. This is nothing to do with the subject matter - I would say my family is at least as photogenic as anybody else's family. It's something about the way we group ourselves, the fact that at least one person is always half-hidden
behind someone else. I look enviously at other people's family group photos and wonder how they managed to get everybody looking in the same direction, smiling happily, with their hair brushed and their eyes open. One day, I promise myself, we will succeed.
In the, possibly lengthy, meantime, we shall simply have to carry on doing what comes naturally. At least we are not family of posers...
Mr B interrupted my train of thought to remind me of my plan to ask
our guests to send us any really good photos they may have taken of our Golden Day. Think how many cameras were pointed at us over the course of the day. If this averaged out at, say, six photographs per guest - given that The Twinkles didn't take any but
others took dozens - then that could well be another 600+ photographs to sift through. The Middle of the Darling Daughters has recklessly offered to help me put together an album. But how many albums could we fill at this rate?
I do have a treasured photograph of my father, mother, brothers, sister and me, taken at a family wedding. It's not perfect because, though we are dressed up in appropriate finery and all smiling at the camera, my Mum has her eyes shut.
So why do I treasure it? Because on the back my mother has written, in her beautiful script: "The six of us. I have my eyes shut as usual. Silly me."
Every picture tells a