We were the only people on our Hawaiian trip who did not snap pictures at every photo stop. We purposely had no camera, and got off the tourist bus only to stretch and observe. Beautiful views were recorded in our minds.
This sea change began when my husband dropped our camera, and we decided not to fix it or purchase another. No more lugging the camera to parties or on trips. We decided it's a lot easier and cheaper to purchase and store postcards. An added bonus: I don't have to worry how I look. I looked a lot nicer four decades ago.
At that time, just before leaving for Ankara, Turkey, for a two-year contract, we bought an expensive camera to take slides of our 1-year-old daughter, my mother's only grandchild. At least, that was the excuse.
While there, we snapped pictures during a European one-ring circus and at Hittite ruins. There are several boxes of slides depicting our trips to Istanbul, a great metropolis with mosques, palaces and a magnificent skyline.
When we returned to America we spent hours oohing and aahing over our growing collection during our "viewing" evenings. We often invited friends to enjoy our adventures, but they had a tendency to nod off. Nobody objected when my husband stopped the projector.
Our slide collection tripled when we went to India for two years. We captured Divali, the Hindu New Year, which takes place in October or November. Even the poorest house was decorated with small clay lamps filled with oil. Sometimes houses were outlined with hundreds of the twinkling lamps, and, in a few homes, by Christmas lights. The lights welcomed Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, who was attracted by the golden glow. (The goddess bypassed an unlit house.)
India's past and present fused during the Republic Day festival in New Delhi. We had grandstand seats to watch the folk dancers in colorful costumes and elaborate floats from all over India take part in a cultural pageant. At dusk we took pictures of a parade of camels outlined on a high ridge against the sky. In fact, we took many camel pictures.
The white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones of the Taj Mahal looks different when you view it early morning, mid-afternoon and in the evening. We spent one full day shooting from every possible angle.
Over the years, back in the United States, we added at least 100 children's birthday parties to our collection. Later, we snapped our daughters with their dates (we figured that if they didn't return home by the end of the evening, we had pictures to show the police).
We took pictures of our daughters' graduations from high school and college--one daughter was startled to discover her father crawling on hands and knees down the aisle where the graduates waited to hear their names called.
"Daddy, what are you doing here?" she asked. He was too busy snapping to respond.
Then, one of our daughters dropped the slide projector and it developed an irritating humming noise. So we bought a point-and-shoot camera.
Suddenly, the shelves were sagging from the weight of our photos, and I had run out of space to store more albums. Pictures of England and Scotland languished in large paper bags, along with shots from the Panama Canal cruise.
"Where was this picture taken?" my husband asked.
"That's the other side of the mountain," I replied.
It wasn't long after that when my husband dropped the camera on the sidewalk in front of our house. He had no idea how liberating this action was for me.
Recently we were at the FDR Memorial. You had to be careful where you stood because everybody was either posing or pointing and shooting. Obviously, accumulating photos has become an end in itself.
So far, nobody has asked to see the Hawaiian pictures we never took.