that’s a negative

an app to make it look like film

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. – Andy Warhol

I was at a photo shoot the other day, and I was really, really missing film. After a recent sensor problem in a camera, I’ve lost a bit of my confidence in the lens cap-sporting little computers. I’ll get over it, but it’s made me nostalgic.

Kids always ask, “Can I see?” as soon as you take a photo. They run to stand beside you and look into the display. Adults do, too. Only they’re more likely to ask you to delete the shot or say it’s awful or discuss what flaws they’d Photoshop. The kids simply want to see. They look at the bigger picture.

Imagine if they were to ask “Can I see?” and I said no. There was no display to view. That behind that lens was film. Returning from the photo lab, I’d hand them the negatives, explaining how to carefully hold them. I’d expect unimpressed faces, looking down at the flimsy film in their hands, wondering where the picture was. Look up, I’d tell them, as they held the plastic sheets up to the sky. Let there be light.

An old-fashioned, modern day miracle.


Maybe everyone thinks they were born at a time that offers them a unique perspective on the world. To be born in the late seventies, grow up in the eighties and start adventures in adulthood at the dawn of the 21st century has made me an observer of an incredible evolution. I’m of the generation that went from vinyl to cassette to CD to mp3 in the blink of an eye. In my lifetime, I’ll see more and do more and think more and buy more than several generations before me. Not that all I see/think/do should in any way imply I’m smarter, more worldly or a bit more interesting.

Most people born after the year 2000 have less adapting to do. The don’t know life without computers as a necessity. Or remember phones before they got so smart. Or remember those things we call negatives. They may not know how to write in cursive. And none remember life without the US at war. They do not know life without war. Talk about perspective.

I watch this evolution. And now, revolution.

The last few weeks have been strange. From my desk, I’ve followed Occupy Wall Street via live streams and twitter feeds.  Modern technology is a powerful thing.

Each day I visit we are the 99 percent. People send screenshots – their stories – notes on pieces of college ruled paper, on the backs of bills that can’t be paid, occasionally printed out in Times New Roman, with faces partially or entirely obscured behind their words. Sometimes I cry. Often I cry. What are we evolving into?

If each of those stories were typed and placed on that site they wouldn’t move me us as much as they do. Not because I wouldn’t care to read, but because the handwritten posts are so fragile, susceptible to the elements, so individual. So human. Kind of like film. Those posts are the power of the written word. Literally. xo a.




One thought on “that’s a negative

  1. Mary C. Nasser

    I, too, feel because of the time I was born that I am a witness to this incredible evolution of technology.
    You put all of this into words so eloquently.
    Also, I had heard this about a month ago (what you mentioned) about children being born after 2000 not learning cursive.
    I’ve been teaching calligraphy for 11 years now, and that saddens me and gives me so much to think about.
    Thank you for this insightful post.

    So nice to meet you through BYW.
    All the best,


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