(and a few weeks early, too. was saving [some] of this to spew on our first anniversary. which is coming up. in a few weeks. what?!?)
i feel like instagram may have squashed that "thing" i had going. you know, taking a camera with me everywhere, not leaving the house without some form of picture-taker in my bag and a spare roll, yada yada yada.
times are different now though, and i feel like i may have lost something along the way. which is weird, because it was that very tool that got me extra-fired up for photography again. that same tool that forced the purchase of my first iphone in 2011. that same tool that got me through one of the hardest years of my life. i wrote about this a few years ago, when instagram was still in "the good ol' days" as some have come to speak of wistfully. bonds were formed easily, engagement was genuine, new friends were made - both online and in person. it was a creative outlet that made sense for me, a place where like-minds could find each other. and it stayed that way for a while.
in the five years that i've had instagram it's seen its fair share of changes and it's definitely come a long way since the OG days (i like to call this my "all-earlybird-all-the-time-but-then-there-was-hipstamatic-and-bokeh-filters" phase) when you had to have the app to see the photos. i posted whatever the hell i pointed my phone at and was generous with the time and care i took when browsing, processing and interacting with other excited photographers in this new digital age. of course it started small at first - locals, friends, family - but soon, i broadened my scope and there were photos from all over the world filling my feed. i began to use a more critical eye for what i posted, stepped up my game when editing on my phone and started to craft a feed that was cohesive and had flow, but was still real and told the small stories of my life. along the way, people (in the thousands!) noticed and started to follow along. what a trip. the follows and likes were rolling in, and i kept on being me, posting both the good and disappointing things that life threw at me. but more and more, i was reaching for my phone to take a photo when i used to pick up my camera and carefully compose something to be captured in 35mm. after a while, it was all the time. it was fun and novel for a bit, but there was this pressure to keep up "a good feed" (whatever that even means) and even though i wasn't there to rack up, the more the numbers jumped, the more pressure i felt. and then it started to evolve into a popularity contest - who knew who, who's dog you've met, what brands you were working for, how big the paycheques were, who could travel the most and being jealous of those paycheques and travel and everything else others had and i didn't. bots, spam and trolls became a thing, and so did comments like, "your life is so perfect" (barf, no one has it all together) and it really started to turn me off and wish for more of what it was like when i first joined.
but... it wouldn't be long after this (five months if anyone's counting) that i met my dream dude and he couldn't have been further from that online world that i had carved out for myself. he was a man that had no idea what instagram was, who @bkhphoto was and barely spent time online. (unless you count sending short emails about a dog i was babysitting?) myles was a man with a blackberry that could make phone calls and receive texts. that's it. and i liked it.
at first it was an adjustment - he wasn't ever on his phone, so i didn't want to be on mine either. soon it became more routine, to just be together and check my feed and things later, or even just leave it altogether. i was still taking photos and posting, but not to the same degree or frequency. i became a little more guarded online and started enjoying everything more thoroughly instead of making sure i "got a picture for instagram". without knowing it, over the last three and a half years myles has taught me how to be present with the ones i love, how to live in the moment when big things are happening and how to enjoy a concert without taking a photo. i have him to thank for more vivid memories because i've been seeing things through my own eyes and not a screen. don't get me wrong, i was still documenting (and will continue to), but in a different way. careful and deliberate, not furiously snapping just to make sure it was covered. what a gift, to have your eyes opened and feel like you're really living instead of existing in order to create content.
my camera roll has been pretty thin for quite some time now and it doesn't bother me. i have myles to thank for bringing me back to how things used to be - even if but just a little - because i just don't care anymore. and in that, it's cleared my head and made me remember what it was like before there were a million apps to check and things to keep track of. maybe it's because of all the ways in which it's changed, grown, become more mainstream, or maybe it's because it was a phase. i don't know… but my feelings towards it (it = online life in general) have changed and grown as well. i don't want to be that person that has to have their phone out all the time. i don't want to be that person that has to take a photo or snap a chat of every little thing i do. my life doesn't exist online, it exists in the now and i don't want to waste it worrying about crafting posts that mean nothing to me "but might get a lot of likes", or not sharing things that actually matter to me. so (!) back to posting whatever the hell i want and focusing more on the discipline of snagging not-so-insta real-life moments on film. back to waiting a week for rolls of results. back to drinking coffee while it's hot and not photographed. back to announcing things to friends with a phone call instead of a tweet. back to appreciating more of what i have and wanting less.