Sunday, August 20, 2006

My Life in Photos

I spent the summer after my high school graduation scrapbooking with my eldest sister, Marissa. She is the most creative of us, eight siblings. She wrote poetry, sketched, designed T-shirts and made cards. She used to cut out drawings from gift wrapping paper, added 3-D embellishments and sold them. From her I learned to use the 25-centavo coin to make circles out of felt paper. With a few lines and with the whisk of a scissor, these circles became flowers that she added on to her cards.

She also gifted me with several photo albums. As she scrapped her oldest son's photos, I scrapped along with her. We printed out captions using a dot matrix printer, mounted them on colored paper and cut them with decorative edges. Recently I was heartened to find that Provo Craft Paper Shapers has scissors that produces exactly the same edge (34-0032).

When I took out my photos from the shoe boxes (Zenco Footstep) where I kept them, I was saddened that I only had very few photos of my childhood. Cameras, film and developing were quite expensive then and my parents couldn't really afford that luxury. The few photos I had were given to me by an aunt who had a daughter almost the same age as I. I was usually just an "extra" in her daughter's photos but I am glad that at least I had those precious few photos to scrap. I only have 9 pages of pre-high school photos. One page I was a 7-month old, then I was in grade 1 and then I was in grade 6.

But still each photo brings back a deluge of memories each time I look at them. Looking at a photo of myself in a short dress (I know that it was red, even though the print is black and white), I remember that I had another red dress I really liked. And that it was bought for a Valentine party in kindergarten.

I only had one photo when I graduated from elementary. There I was in my white long-sleeved uniform (a sign that I was moving up to high school) right beside my father's motorcycle. There was not one photo taken during the actual graduation ceremony.

High school was different. My friends and I had group photos and individual portraits taken at the many photography studios in town. This was before the advent of "Photo Me" kiosks. I was also able to borrow a Vivitar camera which used a 110 film (remember those?) from a relative for school occasions - programs, parties, outings, etc. Still, the photos were few and far between. Unfortunately, my measly allowance couldn't cover more photo ops.

When my sister returned to the U.S. after that memorable summer, she left me her Canon camera (135 film). Thus, I was able to document much of the fun and frustrations of my college life. Buying films and having them developed wasn't much of a burden because my roommates usually shared the costs. Sometimes a 36-shot film lasted us months. We only used up a whole roll in a day on special occasions like dorm open houses and outings. I continued to scrap the photos I took, writing down names, places, events and dates. I used few embellishments as I chose to focus instead on the captions.

If only they were acid-free! The cards, not us girls.

Life continues on, and so does my desire to capture it on camera. When I open my old albums, I am transported back to how I have lived, loved and laughed so far. And always, am I ever so glad I scrapped.

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