by MIA FREEDMAN
SCENE 1: I’m at my cousin’s 21st. It’s being held in a noisy inner city pub and my parents are also there. This is hilarious for everyone because they are not pub people. So as soon as I arrive, I make a beeline for them and begin taking photos. They are equally keen to capture the novelty and for the next 10 minutes we all snap away furiously with our phones, thrusting them into the hands of by-standers and beseeching them to “get one of us together” in various combinations. I’m not sure what we will do with these images but it seems very important we have them.
SCENE 2: I’m at a funeral. When the old man died two weeks earlier, his two adult daughters drove from interstate to sort through his things and high in a cupboard they found a box of old photos. They were black and white, slightly yellow and curled at the edges, about two dozen of them. The women wanted to prepare a slide show for the service and they used their phones to take photos of the photos. Among them was a poignant shot of their father when he was about five. As I watch the image fill the carefully erected screen at his memorial service, I’m struck by the preciousness of it. Compared to the thousands of photos taken of kids today, it’s rare to see childhood photos of anyone over 60.
SCENE 3: I’m at a meet-and-greet at ABCTV. Media and guests have been invited with their kids to meet the stars of Giggle & Hoot, Jimmy Giggle (a person) and his sidekick Hoot (an owl puppet). As we walk into the studio, I glance left and find myself next to the world’s most beautiful woman, actor Deborah Mailman. I’m instantly star struck and shove my phone at her husband, asking him to take a photo of us together. It feels urgent. I want to share my experience. Prove that it happened. That I met her. The photo seems even more important than telling her how much I love her (which I do several times).
SCENE 4: I’m on holidays and I’m bummed. “If anyone ever looks back at Christmas 2011 they will wonder why I wasn’t there,” I announce to my family accusingly as I flick through photos on our camera. “There’s not a single photo of me on this holiday. Not. One.” A friend later points out that’s why Apple invented the ‘selfies’ self-facing camera facility on the iPhone – so that women can take photos of themselves because it rarely occurs to men to pick up a camera. Women are the self-appointed archivists and thus frequently M.I.A in the photos themselves.