I don’t like taking photographs with my phone. I actually don’t like taking photos full-stop, because of the 21st century premise that I must take, check, retake, check and filter to take a good picture.
I hate experiencing things through a screen. I remember last New Years Eve, my boyfriend and I went to Albert’s Square in Manchester to watch the fireworks. As soon as the first one went off, the crowd was a sea of smartphones, blazing brighter than the explosions above us. I saw countless people take a ten-second snap of the event, and then spend the rest of the ten-minute show firing it off on snapchat with captions like ‘Happy New Year!’ and ‘Having the best time!’
No, you’re not. You’re not having the best time, you’re trying to show the outside world that you’re having the best time when in reality you’re hunched over your phone, missing all the real-life beauty around you.
It’s the same with Facebook and Instagram; if I see someone posting a million pictures of their holiday, I don’t think, ‘wow, they must be having the trip of a lifetime’. I think, ‘God, are they actually on holiday or just holed up in their room updating social media?’ And for those people who rarely post, I find myself thinking that they must be doing something interesting and exciting, that’s giving them a sense of satisfaction that they don’t need to seek from likes and shares.
Last summer I lived in Italy for three months. Before I left, my mum gave me a disposable camera that her friend had got free in a magazine. I shoved it in my suitcase without thinking, and when I came to unpack I thought: why not? Why not document this entire summer using only 18 photographs?
The idea of travelling back in time 20 years appealed to me for four reasons:
- I couldn’t check my photos and delete them because I didn’t like them. One chance.
- There are only 18 photos. I would have to consciously seek out the beauty in my days and choose the moments I wanted to document.
- The end product is physical. It’s one tangible image, the exact moment I chose, committed to paper.
- The un-sharpened, 90s effect.
So I carried my camera with me everywhere, and I took photos when I felt happy, when something was pretty or when I wanted to remember something. And these were my results.
Unfortunately three of my pictures came out black *SOB*, but fifteen of them made it to print.
My beautiful Mum and Dad when they came to visit us for the weekend.
Our favourite park, where we would sit and play cards and watch the ducks.
On one of our thrice-weekly beach trips to Eraclea.
Nino, our landlord’s cat.
The view from our favourite bar (2 euro Aperol Spritz!) which was in a car park but had the best hospitality.
Checking out the river.
An archway in Venice.
The river Sile.
In the centre of Treviso.
Meditating in the sun.
The only nice grass we could find during the scorching summer. It reminded me of home.
One of the highest points in Veneto, just above Valdobbiadene, where Prosecco comes from.
Our first excursion, the day after I arrived.
Veneto from the top of the mountain.
Looking at these pictures makes me so incredibly happy. Since last summer, I have tried to apply the philosophy behind this experience to my everyday life: find the beauty, don’t think too much and live every wonderful moment through your eyes, not your screen.
I took another disposable camera with me this summer, through Dublin, Italy and back home. I’ll be taking it for developing tomorrow, and I’ll update you with the snapshots of my most beautiful moments as as soon as I can.