I saw it in a photograph…

I honestly don’t know why I thought of them, but my mind turned to the collection of digital photographs that comprise a large share of our family photo collection. There is a veritable boat-load of traditional print photos, but there are even more digital photos. I was an early adopter of the technology, and literally brought the first digital camera into a Ford facility, demonstrating it’s utility in documenting and reporting issues. I still have that camera, a Casio QV-10, and the one I replaced it with later – a Kodak DC-120. Years later, I moved up to a Kodak DC210 or 240 (can’t remember which, and it has long since been stolen), a Fuji Finepix 4900Z, followed by a Canon Powershot 100 ELPH, then cameras were integrated into cellphones and standalone digital cameras became almost obsolete overnight – great little cameras became a dime a dozen, and several more were added to my stable – a trio of Polaroid digitals, a Fuji “sport hardened” digital, a couple of “action cameras”, and many lesser cameras that have long-since faded from memory.

But back to the original bit: the first two cameras, the Casio and the Kodak, stored photos in proprietary formats (CAM and KDC, respectively), and many of the stored photos were still in those formats. My mind turned to these with the question: how do I retrieve the photos? I use a lot of graphics programs, almost universally open-source. None of what I had would touch them. A little more research, and I stumbled upon XNView and the suite of XN programs – not of my beloved open-source software, but freeware nonetheless. So I tried them and, with one minor tweak for the Casio shots, soon had them converted to a more universal, lossless TIFF format. (For those having old CAM files from the QV-10, you have to change the height to 240, width to 320, and unlink the aspect ratio to get the original picture back undistorted. Apparently later QVs has a 480×320 aspect ration, and even later QVs saved jpegs with the CAM extension, so all you need do is change the .cam to .jpg – irrelevant to this post, but if it helps someone…). Of course, in converting these, I had to also review them. I’m up to 2005, currently. The first digital picture in the collection, taken 20 August 1996, was of Kim wearing one of my pocket tee-shirts stirring something at the the stove.

As I walked through time reviewing these, I made an observation: the early pictures were generally happy – Kim almost always smiling and bright-eyed. As we move on through the collection, around 2001, we see that gradually change. More morose. A haunted look in her eyes. This was also around the time that I remember beginning to suspect that something had “come loose” – and I recall this was around when the Labatt’s became a constant. I’m up to 2005. I remember a lot of happy times, where I know Kim was happy and smiling – but precious few of those moments were captured. The events were captured, but not her looking happy.

I’ve commented how I thought that Kim, having more difficulty shedding the baby weight after each child, was getting depressed by her body image. That rings a little hollow reviewing these as well: she looked great after Kenneth. It wasn’t until about two years later that the weight started to come on, and it was a year after that when I believe it all came crashing down for her in terms of her mental state and the depression that I believe led to her alcoholism. I do know that her body image was very important to her, and she often told me she believed that I wouldn’t love her if she wasn’t the slim little girl I married. At least I proved her wrong on that one.

I know there were a lot of factors influencing her depression. I know that my “on the road” job, and her preference for midnights both drove a feeling of isolation. My involvement with various community organizations also pulled me away a few times a month when I was home, and that likely furthered that feeling of isolation. And, perhaps, she felt unimportant to me? I don’t know, and cannot ask her now – but it has become hard to continue through the photos as I’m left feeling like I deflated her dreams or ruined her life. When we met and got married, we had such dreams! Unrealistic, perhaps, as they were, they did fuel us as we forayed on into our life together. Those dreams changed as our reality, as our circumstances, changed – but did she hold on to the old dreams harder and longer than I did?

If photographs could talk…