The Power of a Photograph


Young boy peeking at photos

15 years ago I went on an adventure to Peru. The trip had been a long time coming, something that my friend and I had talked about from our secondary school days. I loved every moment and captured it all in three ways. Firstly, of course is my memory. I close my eyes and recall performing Tai Chi on a roof terrace in Arequipa, wading into the sea at Lima with clothes on because I’d forgotten my swimming costume, and nothing will ever remove the awe I felt when I looked down from the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu to the settlement nestled on the mountain top. Secondly, I wrote a journal whilst I was there, noting all the little things that I learnt and what I felt and saw as we travelled. The tiny things that I thought I might forget, or the facts that I didn’t want to recall inaccurately. Thirdly, finally, I took photographs. With my passion being the written word, the journal means a great deal to me, sparking dusty memories and helping me to feel the Peruvian air on my skin, hear the busy market streets and dodge the bicycles of Juliaca! The photographs though are much more engaging for my boys. They love to ask questions about my trip and it is the photos that bring it to life for them, flicking through the pages as I fill in the details about the place, the people and the wildlife.

Back in those days digital cameras returned quite poor quality photos, or certainly the cameras in my budget did! I travelled instead with what I referred to as a regular camera, along with umpteen rolls of film which I had developed on my return. In some ways I preferred that method. It meant that I actually took the time to print photographs, which I confess I am pretty poor about doing at the moment. It also meant that I thought carefully about each shot, mindful some might say, unlike my snap happy current self who takes photos of all sorts through the lens of my mobile phone.

Looking through old photos

Looking at photos from Peru

Some of these photos made it on to our photo wall at our old house and as we move through our current home updating wall and shelf space, printed photos are something I crave. Maybe along with a few quotes. That would take me right back to my university days when I printed and framed inspirational poetry and prose to turn to when I was in the midst of writers’ block, and the words weren’t coming so readily. I also think that there’s something about printing and framing photos or even words, whether your own or someone else’s, that unlocks a treasure chest of creativity in the mind. There’s a connection there that remains each and every time you glance at them, it can remind you of where you were when you took the photo, wrote the words, saw the picture. It can give you that same reassuring inspiration each time. That homely feeling that is missing from my house at the moment, bare walls staring out of most of the rooms in a somewhat impersonal, forlorn manner.

So to the hardware shop it is, to buy an extra round of nails and picture hooks, then on to an antiques centre or charity shop to search for perfect frames to complement the ones I already have. I want those memories to be hanging over me, hanging over us all. Not just the ones from Peru, but the family ones too, some with faces long gone but remembered daily and very much missed. The comfort blanket that the walls need. Perhaps the power of a warm hug which will make this house start to feel like home too.

Photo album

Do you make sure you print photos, or do you view them online or store them on your phone? Let me know in the comments below!