Behold yet another casualty of the digital age: the printed photograph. And, with it, the little ritual of memory previously so familiar to those of us born before 1995: popping the full roll of film into that little black-plastic canister, taking it to the photo shop, waiting—and waiting, and waiting—for it to be developed…and then, once handed the bright-papered envelope, devouring its contents, one at a time, gingerly holding each picture around the edges so as not to smudge its impossibly glossy finish.
In its Ideas section yesterday, the Boston Globe ran an elegy of sorts for that ritual—and for the printed photograph itself—in the guise of a review of David Okuefuna’s new book compiling the work of Albert Kahn, The Dawn of the Color Photograph. (H/t Chuck Tanowitz.) While such a piece of writing could easily verge into clichéd banality—alas, poor Kodak—the Globe treatment, written by the painter and critic Dushko Petrovich, instead strikes an effective balance between criticism and nostalgia. We even get shades of Sontag.
If you find yourself missing paper photos—and even if you don’t—Petrovich’s essay is well worth a read.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.