It never ceases to astound me how much our eye changes. A photograph we may have considered one of our best three years ago may bring us close to a cringe today. Certain shots we may have thought were oh-so-original now seem cliché. But looking back through our previous work isn’t always embarrassing. In fact, a leisurely browse through your personal archives can often yield some surprising — and delightful — discoveries.
As our tastes evolve and change so does what we consider “good.” It’s easy to pass over a particular photograph when you’re looking for — or expecting — something else. I spent a recent afternoon searching through old images, trying to find a specific shot. The exercise shouldn’t have taken long, but once I happened upon a long-forgotten photo of my daughter in a vintage dress looking for ladybugs in the grass, I was prompted to keep looking. Soon the afternoon had evaporated and my evening was spent excited and scanning old pictures that were quickly becoming new favourites.
An occasional trip down memory lane has now become a ritual I enjoy, especially on a chilly day best spent in pajamas or when I’m disappointed and bored with my latest shots and lacking inspiration. Although I’m going through the same images over and over, I always find something new — or at least see it that way every time out.
Our archives can be one of the best sources for a fresh idea, even though it’s not always a great photograph that prompts it. Maybe it’s just a little thing: a certain angle that makes the image unique or perhaps you’ve noticed an object in the background that deserves to be front-and-centre in its own photograph. Whatever the case, a trip through your archives is almost certain to stir up ideas and inspiration. And who knows — tucked in amongst those new shots you’re taking may just be that one picture that ends up being the gem you spot in your archives months from now because by that time, your eye will have evolved and changed yet again.
What photos have you discovered when searching through your old negs and prints? Share your shots and stories with me!
Pamela Klaffke is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who now works as a novelist and photographer. Her column appears weekly in the Analogue Lifestyle section of Lomography Magazine.