I downloaded Instagram about two weeks ago.
I discovered that a lot of people I know are already on it and have been, probably for years. It’s a thing that the kids at school always used to write (annoyingly) – follow me on insta, and then their username. Yet another social media outlet, yet another way to measure popularity.
I hadn’t downloaded it before because I didn’t really see the point. My phone takes pretty crappy photos, and always has. I don’t buy phones with nice cameras built in. I feel like cameras should do that work, and phones should.. be phones. I’m old fashioned.
Anyway, right after I downloaded it and started following about eight things, one of which was NatGeoTravel, they announced their “Discover Japan Contest” which just asks you to post your best Japan (or J-inspired) photos with the hashtag #discoverjapancontest to be considered.
I set out to comb through my collection of J-photos so I could tag the ones I wanted to upload to this thing. I’d been meaning to go through my J-photos for a while now, and had even gone so far as to buy a multi-opening frame where I intend to display a collage of selected prints (with the hopes of buying more such frames as the photos were selected and printed). The massive collection I have of J-photos is a blessing and a curse. Its sheer size causes me to have avoided it this long, but it’s also a repository of all kinds of memory. Good, bad, ugly (beautiful vistas, excellent times with friends, spiritual journeys, frustrating encounters, …Jermaine…), I documented a lot of my life and adventures with the various cameras I bought at Jusco during my time in Japan.
The date stamps and dated-folders of the photos create a de facto journal of all the stuff I was seeing and doing while living in Japan.
Going through all that? Well, that’s wonderful and terrible, too. On the one hand, I miss it more when I look at what I recorded. Obviously missing from the photographic record are the boring days, as well as any time spent lying on the couch missing home, any time spent bleary-eyed and resentful on late night trains, time spent wondering what people who had lives were doing when it was prime time on a weekend night and I was just cleaning the apartment. It presents a skewed view of the whole experience by its very nature. I didn’t photograph what didn’t inspire the urge.
I posted some photos on facebook a while back, a ‘photo-a-day challenge’ for the year 2015 — specifically because I had stopped taking photos almost altogether. I read that as a lack of wonder, an inability to be amazed at the small everyday things that make up a large part of all of our lives. I only photographed special events, and nothing, apparently, was special enough to rate. Where do our lives go?
At the risk of going down the existential rabbit hole (a hole that pulls at me with the act of combing these photos), I recognized that many, if not all, days I lived in Japan were adventures, new experiences, to be explored. And that if I treat the rest of my life like the opposite, a non-adventure, an old-hat experience, not worth exploring, I am doomed.
Although I went to my classroom at Whites Creek every single morning, and despite all the range of feelings I felt in that place, it is no longer mine, and I have very low chances of ever being there again. Only after the fact am I sort of glad to have photos of it. Likewise, the places I am, the things I see now, although they may even seem totally boring and stupid and meaningless will not always be as they are.
I recorded many of my photos also with the intention to share them. To show folks not there with me what I was seeing around me. Now, I’m finding them valuable in a different way to current-me, a gift from past-me. I’m even grateful for the photos of Jermaine* (though I have no intention of sharing those — too gross, y’all).
Anyway, one thing I’ve been doing all month is systematically going through them to tag the ones I want to upload and also the ones I want to display. The ones I want to print typically have people in them, while the ones I’m posting to Instagram are mostly vistas and other scenic type shots. I’ve made it to October 2010.
If you want to see these, you can follow me on insta. ^_^ Or just use that link to browse. Most of what is on there right now is Japan stuff, with a couple of current shots thrown in.
If you want to see what the Daily Photo Challenge produced, click that link. It’s got 115 photos, which out of 365 is not the best average. But way better than 15.
*Jermaine was the name given to a horrible blister from an 8-hour burn I obtained by being drunk and using a hot-water-bottle in bed. It lasted from January to May and prevented the wearing of shoes. I took photos to document the gruesome thing and its healing process.