This was not a filter; there is no app for that. Not back then. Recording things–sound or visuals–was unimaginably more annoying.
We’ve gone over the taper’s Fitzcarraldo reenactment of an existence, but think back on what an immense pain in the ass taking a simple photograph was.
Cameras were expensive, bulky, and though most were fairly sturdy metal gadgets, they were still machines that depended on thin panes of glass being in precisely the right location, so you had to baby them They did not fit in your pocket. And, as with most technology back then, cameras came with countless other doohickeys and attachments, all of which you had to know how to work. Nothing adjusted itself–there was math involved. Basic photography was so complicated, yet considered so valuable, that almost every high school in America had a photo lab. Most of those labs have been converted into open-floor plan room that school districts, increasingly desperate to save money in these tight times, have begun reducing student roles by selecting a bunch of kids who weren’t going to do much in life anyway and Hunger Gaming them.
As i said, there wasn’t a pocket made large enough to hold any of this crap (MC Hammer had not arrived on the scene yet) so you had to wear it around your neck, which attracted muggers. Younger readers will be unaware that in the 70’s and 80’s, residents of major cities were mugged, on average, 1.7 times daily. There was so much mugging going on that in 1979, it comprised just over nine percent of New York City’s GDP.
So, if you wanted to bring a camera, you might also have to bring a knife.
And film, of course. Silent cousin to celluloid, photo film was touchy, delicate, and expensive. Film cost so much money that you might have thought it was made out of dead dinosaurs. Any exposure to light was game over: film could not even be in the room with Judith Light without being ruined, which makes her legendary career on television that much more inspiring.
What’s more, an elaborate lab was required to develop the film in an elaborate Japanese tea ceremony process that involved dipping the exposure in one batch of toxic death-bath, then another, and another, and finally into the water. All of this naturally required precise timing which, if missed by a very small fraction, would leave you with a blank sheet of wasted paper. All of this was done in a complete blackness, so basically: if you wanted a nice memento from your Aunt Gladys’ 70th birthday party, you had to become the Blind Master.
Most people didn’t process their own film, though. There was another step, just as expensive and prone to human error: you had to bring the actual film to an actual place. Then the fist place (unless it was a real big place) would send the actual, physical role of film–a human being made a living and fed his children doing this job–to a really big place that lots of small places sent their film to. Then it was sent back; the whole process might take three days and was rather insecure: anyone along the developing chain could look at your pictures, which bothered people. The pendulum seems to have swung rather to the other side lately.
You couldn’t see what you had just taken a picture of: you had captured the past, but you had also left it there. Perhaps you;d pick it up later. Maybe it would sit in the canister in a forgotten junk drawer. Sometimes, it’s a miracle any of the past got here alive at all.
The scarcity of resources made photography a rarer, more valued thing. There were hurdles and barriers at every step: for a picture to make it all the way into the world was a struggle.
Whereas, a few months ago, I was at an acquaintance’s house and, noticing that he had left his printer open to his network, snapped a quick selfie of my testicles (a ballie?) and printed 100 copies. Economics 101: if something is free and unlimited, then it has no value. Also covered in Econ 101: don’t let me into your home.
This did not happen.
Now you show up!?