If I Had A Photograph

Remember that Flock of Seagulls song? ‘If I had a photograph of you I wouldn’t spend my time just wishing…’

When I was young we bought a roll of film, took photos, and paid to have it developed. If you were lucky one or two turned out and the rest were tossed.

Then we spent money on photo albums. You’d peel back the thick plastic and carefully place your photo on the sticky cardboard and cover them back up with that plastic that froze in wrinkles for all eternity.

Then came digital, and how that changed everything. No more rolls of film unless you were a professional photographer or purist. No more development costs. The ability to delete all the embarrassingly bad photos.

And the ability to archive thousands and thousands of pictures on your computer, on the Cloud, even on your smart phone.

Until you accidentally delete all the photos you took from your trip overseas in July.

Until you remember that you didn’t back up the computer after downloading all those photos.

Until you realize that not only are all those photos gone, but also you’ve somehow lost the whole entire photo program on your computer.


I’m reminding myself that things are just things. Photos are gone, but memories remain.

I am going to take the computer in to a repair expert though.

And if anything can be salvaged, I think I’ll print out photos and see if anyone still sells old sticky albums where pictures can be stuck safe for years.


Because all of this has also made me think about the people in California who lost their homes to the recent fires.

How quickly everything can be lost.

There is no backing up a whole house. There are no saving heirlooms and mementos to the Cloud. There is no shoving your child’s first report card onto a thumb drive, or the quilt your great-grandmother made. Emergency Services might bring you blankets, but it won’t be that quilt.

I’m thankful that all I’ve lost are some photos, and I ache for those who have lost everything, in so many ways.

5 thoughts on “If I Had A Photograph

  1. Something to remember whenever I accidentally break some insignificant thing (world’s biggest klutz) or lose an item I deem important. There are those things that are irreplaceable, but memories and experiences can never be recaptured, only enjoyed and lived.


  2. Every time a natural disaster claims the lives and/or their life’s belongings I ache for those families, too. I cannot imagine entire towns and lives being burned away… so so sad. Although I live in tornado prone area and we’ve had much devastation as well there is just something about fire that seems horrifying. Tornado’s, you can hide from in the basement… fire you cannot hide from. It finds you.

    I was lucky enough to escape a house fire early on in my marriage. The roar is something I still remember to this day. It taught me a few lessons about life though. Mainly that life is precious and can be gone in an instant of course, but also to keep precious to my heart memories like photos in one place that can be easily grabbed on the way out. I now have my photos and old negatives in a huge drawer that I hope I could carry out with me if it were to ever happen again. I’m practical if nothing else.

    I hope they can recover your photos from your computer.


  3. I appreciate this post very much. It scares me that most of my memories are stored onto a computer, when often times I look back at my baby photos and realize that these are from over 2 decades ago, and unless taken good care of, could easily be wilted or damaged. But there is something freeing in being able to delete, the ability to not have a photograph as a memory, rather, a memory as a memory. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.


    • I liked having photos on the computer instead of a giant bin that gave me guilt because I never organized photos. But then losing them made me regret not having printed the important ones out. I did get these lost ones back though! My computer was completely rebuilt and they were retrieved. While the memories were there, I am very happy they are back.


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