Ben Borgers

Pictures as Memories

April 26, 2022

I used to roll my eyes when people took tons of pictures on trips. Precious moments ruined by trying to make it look good for later, I thought. But last summer, I became the person I used to roll my eyes at.

At the beginning of the summer, I impulsively decided that I should post on Instagram every single day that summer. It was one of those ideas where you just want to prove to yourself that you can do something.

So that’s what I did. I documented every single day that summer with an Instagram post at the end of the day. At the beginning of the summer, I had five posts that were years old. By the end of the summer, I had added 70 more.

In order to do that, I had to take pictures everywhere I went. And after a while, I could feel a little process churning in the back of my head: whenever I was doing something, whether by myself or with friends, I should take a picture of it.

As a result, I took over a thousand pictures that summer. Everywhere I went, and most things I did, all documented in my camera roll. I have such a vivid visual history of that summer.

And now, I’ve been converted. It’s so nice to have these pictures to look back on. I write a daily journal entry, but often pictures can evoke much stronger visual memories than reading my own journal can.

Part of me wishes that I still did that. Not the daily posts — those were kinda stressful at times, and my life isn’t interesting enough to keep doing that — but the constant taking of pictures. I wish I had detailed visual history of freshman year, for example.

But it was much easier to take pictures when I did the daily Instagram posts. Not only did I have to in order to make the daily deadline, but it also made it less awkward for me to force my friends to pose for a couple seconds in front of my phone on self-timer. There was reason behind it; an explanation for it.

But even without that daily pressure, I should remind myself to take more photos. I pay $3/month for iCloud storage. My camera roll can handle anything.