What a year! The events of the last week must surely form the icing on a 2016-cake built of bullshit, bitterness and death. I’m increasingly convinced that David Bowie may have been the glue holding our entire world together.
It’s been a toughie on a personal level, too – losing two people to irreparable disagreements, after a lifetime of never falling out with anyone. A diagnosis of rapid and terminal cancer in a treasured family member. A confirmation of early dementia in another.
It’s easy to get very, very down.
But of course, it’s been a year of joyful moments too. Watching this tiny girl of ours grow bigger and brighter and all the more herself. Marrying my favourite person in a barn full of swallows and sunlight. Swooning at Skywalker, smashing my income targets, new friends, warm bread, first snowfalls, fresh adventures. It’s just, for whatever reason, these moments don’t weigh quite so much. They’re easier to forget about. That old negativity bias.
It is, as I often say to people, one of my favourite things about Instagram. That the daily discipline of photography, of sharing the good in your day, however hard, records a different story to our minds. A scroll back through the last few months on my gallery never fails to remind me how lucky I am – how much beauty there is, how many days of laughter and light there were amongst the gloom. It’s the greatest defence I can think of for our curated instagram world – a whole bunch of people gathering together to say ‘LOOK at this sunrise!‘ and ‘there’s a bunny on my coffee!‘. I need more of this stuff in my day to day, tbh. I need to focus on joy, now and then.
I’m weird about printing photos because I’m finicky about clutter. I’ve printed favourites in the past and taped them to walls, but nothing since sometime in 2015. Too busy and distracted, I suppose, but lately Orla’s become really, really interested in those older prints. She asks to see favourites again and again. Can she show them to her friends? Can she take them to school today?
It felt odd to have nothing more recent to share with her.
So when Canon offered me a HD photobook to review, it seemed like my chance to put the year into print. The good bits of the last twelve (ok, eleven) months – the parts we want to remember. Like those Christmas annuals you’d get as a kid (Star Wars, Neighbours, Dennis the Menace), only of our actual, lovely, fortunate life.
After putting it off for my whole adult life, it turns out making a photo book isn’t half as faffy as I expected. The online software had a combination of layouts which worked well, as I wanted to include a combination of portrait, landscape and Instagram-squares. It let me upload from any of my online sources (instagram, flickr, Facebook, etc), though I mainly used images direct from my Mac to ensure they were full-resolution. It seemed like a waste of Canon’s photo-glossy pages and lie-flat binding not to fill it with the biggest, most beautiful images I could.
I had planned to gift it to Orla as part of her Christmas present, but she was home when the postman came calling, and this girl is obsessed with parcels. She was ripping the cardboard off before I had chance to intervene, so it was immediately hers.
She likes reading it at bedtime like it’s a storybook, which I suppose it sort of is. We talk about the day the cat caught a tiny goldfinch, and how we tucked it into a little box & buried it. We remember days in the woods, trips to ‘Big London’, that treasured pair of summer shoes.
It’s made me think that perhaps this is what we all need this Christmas. A guide to the good things that are still out there for all of us; a reminder that we can make more of them happen again in the future. A happily before and – hopefully – ever after.
This post was sponsored by Canon HD books, but, as you can probably tell, is 100% me and from the ❤️.