For as long as I can remember, I admired photography. It always fascinated me how with a look through a lens and a touch of a button, you have the ability to capture a moment in time. One simple photograph allows for somebody to relive a past experience or help others imagine what the time was like. An image has the spectacular power to inspire, delight, dishearten, enrage, amuse, and perplex. The highlight of any trip to my grandparent’s home is marveling at the framed photographs that adorn each wall. Every time I walk through the door, I go on a journey back in time from my grandma and grandpa looking so elegant and in love on their wedding day, to my mother and her siblings sporting their coordinating pastel garb and hats on Easter. A plethora of other photos marked different vacations, birthdays, family gatherings, proms, and graduations. Then, of course, there are two entire shelves boasting photos of their beloved grandchildren.

My mother was intent on maintaining this tradition of documenting life’s simple moments and important milestones through photography, whether it be my brother and me running through the sprinkler in the backyard or getting on the bus for our first day of school. I recall her being ready to capture the perfect shot at any moment. Then she would assemble the most beautiful scrapbooks that we frequently reminisce on to this date.

Given my appreciation for these photos, I decided to put my skills behind the camera to the test. Before any family trip, I would accompany my parents to the store. Aside from purchasing sunscreen, goggles, and other vacation necessities, I would pick out my very own disposable camera to take along the journey. Nothing was more satisfying than winding up the film and hearing the “click” of the shutter button. My favorite part, however, was going to get the film processed when I returned home. Within an hour, I had an envelope of full of glossy, 4x6 memories. Without a doubt, many of these photos were worthy of the family scrapbook. Some photos, on the other hand, served as clear indicators that I needed practice. Evidently, I did not need to waste six of the 27 pictures the humble disposable camera was capable of on one horse I came across, no matter how adorable it was.

When I felt that I graduated from the disposable camera, a “big kid camera” claimed the first item on my Christmas list. After receiving my prized purple Kodak, everything changed. Gone were the days where I was confined to taking a mere 27 snapshots. Now I had the glory of being able to photograph absolutely everything, all the time — my friends, my family, pretty flower blooms in my yard, the cake I made, my cat, my friend’s cat, or pretty much any animal I saw, for that matter! Soon, I followed in my mother’s footsteps making scrapbooks of my own.

Today, we obviously have the luxury to take and share pictures in an instant. However, similar to my preference of reading a real book with pages to flip as opposed to an ebook, I still prefer the hard copy of a photograph. This fall when I go off to college, you can be assured there will be proof of my past life hanging on the walls of my dorm. I may be leaving home, but I am bringing my memories with me.

Shelby Connor is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.