From the Labere family snapshot collection, Lachlan Labere and son sharing a bumper car ride during the Salmon Arm Fall Fair. (Contributed)

Column: Sympathy for the camera shy and praise for the lowly snapshot

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

My sister-in-law has in her possession a somewhat compromising photo from my early childhood.

The colour-faded image, taken long before the rise of home computers and cell-phone cameras, is of my father and I lying on our stomachs on a motel bed watching television. My brother is on my dad’s back being goofy.

Oh, and with the exception of some well-placed bits of blanket, we’re all buck naked.

The photo makes my sister-in-law giggle.

My mom took the photo – as she did all the family photos. I don’t think mom would call herself a photographer, though she often had a point-and-shoot with her, taking snapshots of our birthdays, family outings, vacations, get-togethers with friends – the priceless images that, over time, would assist in providing clarity to our increasingly hazy memories.

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Looking through my mom’s photo albums (she is the curator of early family memories), numerous images of my dad can be found, from when he was a young man to his later years. I am grateful, as I understand he didn’t like having his picture taken. I don’t know if he’d be crazy about today’s omnipresence of digital cameras.

There was an estimate in 2017 that suggested 1.2 trillion photos would be taken that year. I suppose I took my share for the Eagle Valley News and the Salmon Arm Observer. However, that visual information overload is why I’ve come to value the family snapshot most – images of moments of personal meaning. 

The 10,000 plus photos in my electronic photo album are largely of my wife and son. You might think I also don’t like having my photo taken. Maybe. But also, I’m usually the one behind the camera.

Last summer, when my brother was visiting, I wanted to show him a photo I’d taken. While scrolling through my album, he noticed several images I’d recently taken of myself while out hiking. He laughed at me for taking selfies. I remember being embarrassed, but also reluctant to tell him why I’d taken them. They are for my son so that one day, when he becomes the curator of our family memories, there’ll be a few more in there to remember his old man by. And maybe make him giggle.


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