I have this old commemorative issue of Rolling Stone. It has some of the best pictures printed in the magazine over the years, with their photographers talking about them. There’s one of Chevy Chase, John Belushi and the rest of the cast of Saturday Night Live and another one of a pensive Janis Joplin. There’s one of a nervous Buddy Holly and one of a happy Kurt Cobain. There’s one of Paul McCartney sitting away from John Lennon, and one of Lennon with Yoko Ono.
The people who’ve taken those pictures have written what they remember about the time the picture was taken – the social mileau at the time, the artiste’s mood, the chemistry.
Most of those people, both the stars and the shutterbugs, are dead. Many died quite tragically but it’s almost as if the pictures speak for them and keep them alive. And of those who’re still alive, you can’t help wondering if perhaps this was the way they wanted to live back then.
It’s the same with old family photos. All those people, all their hopes and dreams and petty rivalries. Half of them dead, some complete strangers to you. And a few known faces that look just like yours.
Old photographs. They take you to a place away from this world and remind you of the finality of death. You can be funny, sarcastic, bitter, jolly, cheerful, pretty, vain or whatever else. You die. So does everyone you know. And the only thing that remains are photographs for some dumb kid to look at, decades from now.
When you open a photo album, the past stares back at you. And you look away, not wanting to see your future.