Photographs are a wonderful creation giving us a glorious glimpse into the past with each snapshot of frozen time.
Photos can preserve happy times – holidays, weddings, children growing up – and prompt laughter or tears with the memories they evoke.
Worth a thousand words, photographs provide a record of the world and you can find something new, personal or revelatory in each image.
There was a time when cameras only came out on momentous occasions, and when you reached the end of your film, you had to hand it in at Boots or some other developers then wait until your snaps were ready to pick up.
Then followed the excitement of opening that envelope and joyously seeing your captured cherished moments.
Or in my case, rather than joy, dismay at discovering I’d made endless blunders, and my pictures would either be too dark, out of focus or I’d chopped people’s heads off.
Many moons ago, when Hubby and I were still dating, we went on our first break together to Paris for a few days during the month of bleak but picturesque February.
With so many beautiful sights, I was camera happy and snapping away.
However, when I picked up my photos, EVERY single snap – including one taken from the top of the Eiffel Tower, had the thumb of my bright red gloves in the corner.
Only a few years ago, on a holiday to Morocco, I took a snap of Hubby and our son as they sat atop a camel, right.
Hubby shook his head in disbelief when he saw the resulting photo. “You think you’ve taken a bad photo when you chop off one head, never mind three!” he marvelled.
In my defence, I was sat aboard a camel myself with our daughter Yasmin when I took the said photograph and the camel kept bumping me.
In these days of Facebook, Instagram, every phone having a camera and the national obsession with selfies, everyone is an amateur photographer and even young children are snapping away.
We might not print them off and lovingly place them in albums any more, but we take more photos than ever before.
As I discovered this week, photos have another important role as a “thinspiration” to those battling to shed pounds.
One of my friends is on a mission to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle in the run-up to her wedding and has already achieved wonders by losing almost two stones.
She made me chuckle when she told me the tale of her “thinspiration” photo and how she uses it to spur her on to keep being healthy.
The photo of herself as a 19-year-old in a bikini is something she looks at regularly in her quest to lose weight. And to make sure her dream body is always in her mind, she has saved the photo as her screensaver on her laptop.
However, she was left a bit red-faced this week when she experienced broadband problems at her home and the Virgin Media engineer had to come to her home to fix it.
When he had everything up and running, he asked her to switch on her laptop so he could check the speed and with a sinking heart, she realised she didn’t have time to change the screen saver as he was sat right next to her.
Stumbling over her words she rapidly explained to him that she was on a diet and this photograph of her in a bikini served as a motivational tool.
As he looked at her with a pitying look, she wasn’t sure if he thought she was narcissistic or just plain delusional.
Another friend confessed she too used “thinspiration” to drive her when at the gym only instead of looking at a photo of herself, she fixates on thin women exercising and stares at them willing her own body to become the same shape.
Her boyfriend thought she had lesbian tendencies after spotting her staring longingly at other women.
My own experience of looking at photos of myself in years gone by is complete wonder at how slim I actually used to be.
If only I could step back in time, I’d tell the younger version of me to make the most of that figure as it would soon be a thing of the past.
The thing that worries me is, in another five years will we be looking back at photos of how we look now thinking: “I wish I still looked like that.”
We should all be happy as we are instead of being preoccupied with the past.