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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Holding a Mirror to a Longtime Love of Photography


I've had many cameras over the years that have grown with me as my photography skills advanced. I remember my first camera. It was an old point and shoot where you had to physically advance the film. Yes, film -- this was the 80's before digital photography even existed. My love of taking photos was especially sparked during my year studying abroad in London. I took a photography course and had to develop the film in a darkroom (Google it if this concept sounds completely foreign to you!). I loved documenting my experiences abroad on film and creating memorable images. Now with the iPhone, it's so easy to instantly snap pics and yet I find I don't print the many photos I take. Gone are the days when you had to print to see what a picture actually looked like.

I was reflecting on my photography during a recent visit to the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City. There was an exhibition called "Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection." The exhibition surveyed the ways people present themselves for the camera, how and by whom they are represented, and who is deemed worthy of commemoration. The images included everything from nineteenth-century daguerreotypes to twenty-first-century selfies. Each one offered the opportunity to investigate the ways photography shapes our ideas about ourselves and others. These are the images that resonated with me the most:

"Hidden mothers" were used to help children stay still for the tintype's long exposure time.

A missing poster with a mysterious story behind it.

Remembering an earlier time when we actually printed our selfies at the photo booth.

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