Memory keepers

Memory keepers

When travellers return from the year-end holiday season, their digital archives will have expanded like their waistlines, and the question soon arises: What will happen to all the snapshots of sumptuous meals and laugh-out-loud moments captured on vacation?

These days, most pictures never make it off the memory card, let alone to the printer. They do not have to lie dormant in the digital abyss, however.

Some Singaporeans are taking the time to compile their holiday memories for posterity.

To keep his memories alive, engineer Fadzly Amir, 27, started making videos of the trips he shared with his fiancee Ruby Tan, 26, two years ago.

Using a GoPro camera strapped to his chest or to a selfie stick, he recorded their trips to places such as Cambodia and South Korea.

He prefers video to photo albums because he feels video is a way to quickly encapsulate the full experience and mood of each trip.

"Many friends upload hundreds of photos to Facebook, but I scroll through only about 10 before I get bored.

"With a video, it takes only two minutes to see the whole trip and there's more action," he says.

But making the video is much more time-consuming than uploading photos to a digital album.

It takes about two weeks of editing to turn five to eight hours of footage into a three-minute film with a mood-matching soundtrack.

Still, he feels the time spent is worth it when everyone gets to see and enjoy his work, which he posts on YouTube and shares on Facebook and WhatsApp.

"The video reminds us of the trip, what we did, how we felt, and it is something we can keep for a long time and view over and over again," he says.

But spending hours putting together a video, scrapbook or photo album after a trip is not for everyone.

Singapore Management University marketing graduate Vicky Chen, 23, admits she is "pretty lazy" about getting pictures printed and putting them in a book at the end of a trip.

So when she spent eight months travelling to 15 countries around Europe last year, she used a scrapbook to save important notes, addresses of her AirBnB lodgings, pictures, postcards and bus passes.

She stuck the memorabilia in her notebook using scotch tape as she travelled.

On empty pages, she sketched moments she wanted to remember, such as a day spent lazing at the beach with friends.

"My style is to get the experience into the scrapbook as soon as possible, as you experience it.

"If you wait, by the time you get home you are a bit lazy, or have lost or thrown away half the stuff you wanted to keep.

"Also, it is easy to get caught up in getting back to normal life. You are already experiencing something else," she says.

She kept one notebook for her five months based in France for a university exchange programme, and another notebook for her three-month internship at a digital advertising agency in Britain.

"When I'm older I would like to view them again, to remind me of what it was like to be this age and have these experiences," says Ms Chen.

Wanting to recollect one's past is also why Mr Hairol Salim, 30, who works in a publishing company, visited a printer in Bras Basah Complex a few months ago.

Armed with 60 of his favourite photographs snapped on trips to New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney and Reykjavik last year, he had a photobook printed for $60.

"It struck me that I probably needed a physical copy of the photos I had taken on my trips.

"When keeping them in digital format on Facebook or on my phone, I worry that they might all be forgotten some day or vanish into digital space," he says.

Happy with the results, he plans on making another photobook, taking more time to concentrate on the book's layout and visual narrative, later this year.

"A hard copy is something I can keep for a long time, something I might chance upon two to three years down the road and reminisce about my experiences and where I've been.

"Nothing beats being able to have those memories in your hands," he says.

As American philosopher Susan Sontag said in her influential essay On Photography: "The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own."

vlydia@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 1, 2015.
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