When I was a teenager a man told me that over the course of my life I’d meet 40,000 people. It was the kind of unfathomable information that will prompt a kid to automatically nod in agreement, if only to make sure the offering continues bouncing on into the back of the brain. I’m sure that tidbit got hung up somewhere at an obtuse angle in mine, next to theorems and postulates.

Since then I’ve lived my years counting the good friends I have…had…and have no idea if I’ve come close to meeting forty thousand individuals: my guess is, not yet, as I’m a tad shy of sixty years.

During this intervening time I’ve owned a camera and taken pictures, also in the thousands, and I haven’t kept track of them either. Every now and then, as I’m searching for something else, I run into one of these forgotten film friends, and the step back in time is immediate. In this they are like music.

I feel badly that I haven’t visited with them lately, but they’re stored in a file cabinet and I’m shooting digitally now, glued to a computer and surrounded by hard drives, all full of demanding 1s and 0s that multiply by powers I’ll never understand.

A handful of the old images have paid for their keep through commercial and editorial sales, but the majority have a value that is entirely personal: they exist solely to remind me of a place, a person, a time well-lived and remembered fondly.

Except to perhaps agree that my photos are composed nicely and exhibit interesting subjects…they are meaningless to you. Ditto your stack to me, which you’ve edited and nurtured for similar reasons. There will surely be a handful of shots from each that remind us both of a special place or time, but they can’t arouse us like the ones we’ve taken for ourselves. We are both collectors, and an introverted audience of one.


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