That is by far my favourite quote from the series 'Mad Men'. Basically the moment the series became a genuine cultural event and a personal obsession to me. I recalled this scene after stumbling across a pop-up vintage shop in Bushwick, New York. There, I found a stack of slide photographs that reminded me of the sense of nostalgia Don Draper was talking about, of the time machine, of Kodak, and of our longing for the past by going through preserved visuals.
Photography had always been a way to generate the nostalgia that Don talks about. A propellor of this “pain from an old wound”, albeit a positive one. Taking photos was always about preserving moments. About hanging them, saving them, going back and showing them to your grandkids.
Sigh -- you feel the pain from the wound?
As I was going through the stack, putting one by one against bright light and wondering who could have been the character being photographed back in 1922. I also pondered about the way we were now taking and consuming images.
Nostalgia is by far no longer the main drive to send photos. There's even an App with a 100 million (yes, a hundred million!) daily active users where photographs and videos are sent and disappear after you’ve sent them!?! What? So, hold on. Where’s my carousel where I can go to a place I know I’m loved?
The Photo that Vanished
I discovered Snapchat a bit over a year ago and, to be honest, the interface remained a mystery and made me stay off the App until I was intrigued by John Stanmeyer and his tweets inviting me to check his endeavours on it. It took me about a month to figure out how to add him but man! did it pay off! All of a sudden I found myself taking part in photographer’s lives, musicians backstage extravaganzas and coffee roasters morning moods!
Because of the ephemerality of the platform, there’s an entire new playground for new narratives – exciting narratives. As a storyteller, you can step outside of your comfort zone, forget about the perfect shot, or the single image, and become way more personal, more to the moment. You can also keep your audience intrigued by building up to a certain climax or cliffhanger and making them come back within 24hrs, the time the snap will stay alive.
I’m experimenting and playing with it myself, trying to put myself in situations that can challenge both my preconceived notions of a place, a person or a situation. I’m also trying to produce interesting stories for people to watch and keep on watching as they can turn away from your story and move on to something else in a snap.
Putting myself in random or perhaps unexpected (read: very goofy!) situations really inspires me creatively which is basically the way I also engage in other creative ways – to either take photos, write texts or make music. I’ve always allowed for serendipity, it helps me unpack my thoughts and ideas and makes me look at things through a different lens. But now and precisely because this is so quick, unperfect, and personal, it demands an entire new level (or approach) to storytelling from me. It’s like having mini nostalgias and then letting go of them after a few seconds.
I’m thrilled and excited about these all new platforms to create and connect with others. It challenges me as a storyteller, but also as a story doer. AND! I can talk coffee with John Stanmeyer and he can talk coffee back! Love it.
I'm @lolabelvilla on snapchat! Follow!