I’m pretty sure that Wally/Waldo, Woof, and Wizard Whitebeard must be out on this mountain somewhere, too.
Some younger/hipper friends tell me that there was a thing going around on Instagram this week where people post photos of themselves aged 21.
I might not have any photos of myself aged 21! I certainly can’t find any digital ones…
It must sound weird to young folks nowadays, but prior to digital photography going mainstream in the 2000s (thanks in big part to the explosion of popularity of mobile phones), taking a photo took effort:
- Most folks didn’t carry their cameras everywhere with them, ready-to-go, so photography was much more-intentional.
- The capacity of a film only allowed you to take around 24 photos before you’d need to buy a new one and swap it out (which took much longer than swapping a memory card).
- You couldn’t even look at the photos you’d taken until they were developed, which you couldn’t do until you finished the roll of film and which took at least hours – more-realistically days – and incurred an additional cost.
I didn’t routinely take digital photos until after Claire and I got together in 2002 (she had a digital camera, with which the photo above was taken). My first cameraphone – I was a relatively early-adopter – was a Nokia 7650, bought late that same year.
It occurs to me that I take more photos in a typical week nowadays, than I took in a typical year circa 2000.
This got me thinking: what’s the oldest digital photo that exists, of me. So I went digging.
I might not have owned a digital camera in the 1990s, but my dad’s company owned one with which to collect pictures when working on-site. It was a Sony MVC-FD7, a camera most-famous for its quirky use of 3½” floppy disks as media (this was cheap and effective, but meant the camera was about the size and weight of a brick and took about 10 seconds to write each photo from RAM to the disk, during which it couldn’t do anything else).
In Spring 1998, almost 26 years ago, I borrowed it and took, among others, this photo:
I’m confident a picture of me was taken by a Connectix QuickCam (an early webcam) in around 1996, but I can’t imagine it still exists.
So unless you’re about to comment to tell me know you differently and have an older picture of me: that snap of me taking my own photo with a bathroom mirror is the oldest digital photo of me that exists.
I was told Windows installation should take less than 20 minutes, but these ones have been sitting outside my house all day while the builders sit on the roof and listen to the radio. Do I need a faster processor? #TechSupport
The programmers at British Gas are among the many who don’t believe that a surname can be only a single character, and their customer service agents have clearly worked around their validations (or just left a note for themselves in the problematic field!)… leading to hilarious postal mail1:
This is getting a lot of attention, so I just wanted to add:
- Yes, my surname really is just the letter Q, and it has been for most of my adult life. The story about it is less-interesting than the fact of it.
- Yes, it causes me problems with online forms and the Passport Office hate it but just sometimes it pays for itself. It’s quick to write out, too (if you don’t count the time I lose having to tell people “no, really…”), and saves me wear-and-tear on my keyboard.
I can help you change your name to something
stupidawesome, too. If you’re a British citizen normally-resident in the UK, at least.
- I’ve already seen Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names, thanks. I linked it above, but you probably didn’t see the link if you found me via all the Mastodon boosts this post is getting.
- Be gay, do crime.
Beginning to prepare/test my costume for an upcoming murder mystery party, I glanced into the mirror and briefly didn’t recognise myself. Glasses can do so much to change your face shape!
Taking a photo of our kids isn’t too hard: their fascination with screens means you just have to switch to “selfie mode” and they lock-on to the camera like some kind of narcissist homing pigeon. Failing that, it’s easy enough to distract them with something that gets them to stay still for a few seconds and not just come out as a blur.
But compared to the generation that came before us, we have it really easy. When I was younger than our youngest is , I was obsessed with pressing buttons. So pronounced was my fascination that we had countless photos, as a child, of my face pressed so close to the lens that it’s impossible for the camera to focus, because I’d rushed over at the last second to try to be the one to push the shutter release button. I guess I just wanted to “help”?
In theory, exploiting this enthusiasm should have worked out well: my parents figured that if they just put me behind the camera, I could be persuaded to take a good picture of others. Unfortunately, I’d already fixated on another aspect of the photography experience: the photographer’s stance.
When people were taking picture of me, I’d clearly noticed that, in order to bring themselves down to my height (which was especially important given that I’d imminently try to be as close to the photographer as possible!) I’d usually see people crouching to take photos. And I must have internalised this, because I started doing it too.
Unfortunately, because I was shorter than most of my subjects, this resulted in some terrible framing, for example slicing off the tops of their heads or worse. And because this was a pre-digital age, there was no way to be sure exactly how badly I’d mucked-up the shot until days or weeks later when the film would be developed.
In an effort to counteract this framing issue, my dad (who was always keen for his young assistant to snap pictures of him alongside whatever article of public transport history he was most-interested in that day) at some point started crouching himself in photos. Presumably it proved easier to just duck when I did rather than to try to persuade me not to crouch in the first place.
As you look forward in time through these old family photos, though, you can spot the moment at which I learned to use a viewfinder, because people’s heads start to feature close to the middle of pictures.
Unfortunately, because I was still shorter than my subjects (especially if I was also crouching!), framing photos such that the subject’s face was in the middle of the frame resulted in a lot of sky in the pictures. Also, as you’ve doubtless seem above, I was completely incapable of levelling the horizon.
I’d like to think I’ve gotten better since, but based on the photo above… maybe the problem has been me, all along!
Thanks, supermarket bagels, for expressing exactly how I was feeing when I reached the kitchen this morning: