Lost Photos

I get that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I think of it. One of the worst things that can happen after a trip, is realizing you don't have photos to show for it. I can remember almost every instance when this has happened. One time was on a grade six school trip when photos from Casa Loma were lost due to a faulty camera that exposed the film to light. Luckily in this instance, we realized it about halfway through our tour and managed to reload the camera with a new roll of film. Not so bad.

A few years ago, my sister and I took a road trip up the Bruce Peninsula. We camped, hiked and visited Tobermory. I can remember the images clearly: the white rocks, the blue lake, the sunken ships visible through the clear water, Flower Pot island, the grotto... All those photos are gone. I had them on a CD and somewhere along the way, that CD  has gone missing. These last two were in Ontario and the likelihood of my visiting these places again is pretty high so as much as it bothers me, it's nothing compared to losing entire chapters of a trip.


The first time it happened on a big trip was in New Zealand. I can't even remember what happened but all the photos we took while hiking the Franz Josef glacier disappeared - and they were particularly cool shots against the backdrop of ice walls. Luckily, I was able to at least get a few snapshots from a friend we met on the tour to fill my scrapbook.

While travelling through southeast Asia, my travel partners and I shared a camera and would pop into photo labs now and then to have our digital photos uploaded onto CDs. This was going fine and we were able to keep everything well organized until one of those little shops put a virus on our memory card, wiping out a pile of photos. Snapshots from our visit in Singapore were all gone, and a few from Australia were missing. It was a disaster. I happened to have a film camera with me and I was taking the odd photo here and there but it wasn't nearly the story that our digital photos told. I can remember taking photos of the beautiful city as we walked from China Town over a bridge toward the Raffles Hotel, and I know we must have had some nice shots from the botanical gardens.

Even worse than that was at the end of this trip with the same travel companions. Our last destination was Hong Kong and then we flew back to their hometown of Dublin. On this flight we had a stopover at London Heathrow, so I decided to extend mine by a few hours and take a guided tour of the city. I kept the camera, hopped on a Gray Line and visited all the popular spots: Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, High Park, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Eye, the Thames River and more that I can't quite remember. I recall having lunch in a park and sitting by a fountain in some busy square. I took digital and film shots all day long and then I jetted back to the airport for a short flight to Dublin to meet up with my friends again.

On this visit in Ireland, I caught up with a few old friends, including a fellow Canadian from my university days who joined me on a self guided downtown walking tour. Another friend from Cork brought me down to his hometown, stopping at the Rock of Cashel and Blarney Castle along the way, to visit his his family. During all this time, from our weekend in Hong Kong, to my day in London and capped with a week in Ireland, I was snapping photos and trusting that I would have a nice collection of memories topping off my year of travels.

But, that wasn't the case. When I said farewell to my friends at Dublin Airport, they kept the camera with the promise of sending me all my copies of the CD collection holding memories from 11 months on the road. Years passed before I would receive those discs, despite my constant reminders. When the photos finally arrived, I was bothered to find a lot were missing. When I asked about it, the answer I got was that they must have gotten lost on an old computer. Now I was not only bummed but also peeved. If I had kept the memory cards, and organized them myself I would have made sure everyone got all the photos but sadly, that's the mistake I made and the lesson I learned.

I admit I am lucky to have visited these places, let alone photographed them. But as someone who has documented nearly every single (mundane or not) event in her life, it irks me to know I can't show off these particular chapters.

So what to do now? Be more careful, of course, but at least I can also tell the stories of these experiences and share them in my own unique way. Even if I do seem a tad bitter. Plus, I have a sh*t load of other photos to share.

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