Vintage #11: Camera Roll

Samsung Galaxy, Google Chrome, iPhone and Sony Xperia are only few of the absolutely powerful smartphone with a very powerful camera in it. Now, in this 21st Century, it’s easy to take a picture: take your phone, open the camera, click on the screen and you will have that picture with you forever…until you don’t decide to delete it. Back in the 80s, and especially 90s, people were not so lucky. Let me tell you why!

As i said before, now it’s easy taking picture: once you have you smartphone with you, you can immortalize whatever you want. Sometimes those cameras are as powerful as the professional cameras or they are even more powerful. In one vacation we can take hundreds or even thousand of photos, we can decide which one to keep it and which one to delete and we are actually in the position to “waste them”, taking multiple shots to the same object and then decide which one is the best one. I mean, it’s insane how life is getting easier with technology.
But how was it taking picture in the 80s and 90s? Oh, it was an expencive bet. This is the best definition i can tell you. Why?

Let’s start from the very beginning. Taking some picture in the past was not easy. Well, technically it was easy, but it was not so practical. First thing first, the camera itself.

They were pretty expencive. Today cameras are expencive as well, but at least you can have differents set-ups and you can make different kind of pictures, like portrait, landscapes and much more. The more you pay, the more you can have. In the 80s and 90s, you paid a lot to have a camera to make just photos, without any kind of set ups. Well, in the most expencive models you can have some features, but nothing compaired with today’s cameras.
There was also another problem. Now, you have a Memory-cards to put in the camera, which hepls you take hundreds of pictures and see them one second after you take them. Back in the day, you had the Camera roll…the most played bet in history. Every single person in this world have played this bet at least once a year…myself included.

Think of Camera roll as a much smaller version of a “Memory card” where you could save just a certain number of pictures. And we are not talking of 1000 pictures, but 12, 24, 36 and 48 pictures. I don’t know if there were bigger versions. My dad used to buy the 36 version, because it wasn’t too big, but it wasn’t too small either. Camera Rolls, like memoriy-cards today, must be put in the camera in a specific way, before to take pictures. Once you did it, the bet could start.

Why was it a bet? Because you didn’t know anthing. Camera in the 90s had no display. Not it’s usual, back then it wasn’t. So, if you wanted to take a picture, the only thing you had to do is trust the lens and your eyes: the first for the image quality, the second for the picture itself. in addition, the camera rolls were not for free. Thinking about it, they were not cheap at all. So, buying a camera roll, you knew you were about to pay for some uncertainty….like a bet.

Camera rolls works pretty easily: once you took a picture, the negative version of it was printed on it. Once you were done, or the Camera roll was full of pictures, took it out from the camera and here is when the bet started. In the city there were shops where you could bring the rolls and they developed the photos from the negative in them. Once the shop was done, you paid the service, took the photo at home and hoped for the best. That was the very first moment you saw what you did. It was a pretty exciting moment, because you didn’t know what you would have found: Maybe a blurry photo, maybe the camera didn’t work properly or the picture was not taken at all. Everything could happen.

In the 90s the only way to show someone your vacation, or some important events, was to show the picture itself. My dad was “obsessed whith pictures”, because he wanted to keep in that photo as much memories as possible. There are tons of pictures of me and my sister when we were kids in every possible context. I hated then, i love it now to have all these memories i can see. All the pictures my dad took with the camera are still in my house. All of them. It’s absolutely fascinating to look of those pictures, because all those picture are related to memories and to a world that is disappeared forever.

We take now pictures, but we have lost that feeling of what a picture really is: a moment. In the past, you didn’t want to waste a photo for something stupid or useless, but you wanted immortalize something worthy. I miss that…i miss the importance of a photo. The world is moving forwards and all the old things are forgotten, but sometimes it should not run so fast…

See ya

Mauro.

The Ironically All-Rounder
I'm pretty sure to know everything. If thre's nothing i don't know. be free to tell me!

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