Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Look at the Map - Photographs and Memories


I've been busy retro-actively geo-tagging my photos in my Aperture library.  It's taken the better part of a year but I have finally finished the monumental task of assigning locations to almost every image in my photo library, spanning 12 years and tens of thousands of photos.
Ever since I got a smartphone, the Google Nexus One back in 2010, I've been fascinated that these devices can tag the GPS coordinates into an image. This alone is not that spectacular. But using software like iPhoto, Aperture or Lightroom, being able to view hundreds or thousands of images superimposed over a map of a country or the world sparked my imagination in a way that I haven't experienced since I was a boy, pouring over my dad's big red coffee table atlas.
I have been fortunate to travel as much as I have. To date I have been to 29 countries (including the U.S.), 27 since I started taking photos. To the right is a list, automatically generated by Aperture, of the 27 countries in which I have taken pictures. I have not always had a GPS-enabled camera, which is why I had to go through and tag each photo by hand. I often opted not to drill down beyond the city in which a picture was taken as my memory isn't as sharp as it used to be. But seeing all the pictures I've taken down to the city level is thrilling to me.
I look at the map and I look at the list and I am humbled. A funny thing now, it sparks my imagination, yes, but it also sparks memory. People encountered, food tasted, mountains conquered, disasters avoided, gifts received, wounds withstood, storms of rain, snow, dust and ice, campfires and bonfires, fireworks and fireflies. I'm 27 years old and I am at a crossroads, the intersection of imagination and memory, sunrise and sunset, cradle to the grave. This map is one of my most treasured creations. I just wanted to share with whomever reads this post.