Depreciating assets are always bad news. But photos are a weird sort of appreciating asset. I’m not saying that they are good financial investments, but over time, the value of a photo will grow. Perhaps not the market value, but the value. It will become more important to you as it represents an era you can never go back to. It becomes important to historians, because it does depict an era that they can’t go back to.
And you can’t always know at the time what you’re going to miss when it’s gone. Like the 747. I mean, I don’t miss being in 747s. They were always the least comfortable option flying in the cheap flights between Japan and the US. They made you feel like cattle, and I’ve been told the air quality was horrible, which I’m willing to believe but I can’t back that up in any way.
But on the outside, they’re beautiful. And they’re getting rarer and rarer every year. Wikipedia tells me that there are 545 in operation, but I almost never see them anymore, and even more rarely see one that is a passenger variant. When I took this photo at Osaka’s Itami airport, I had no idea that I was going to stumble on it in my archives and wax nostalgic.
One of the things that I thought immediately of my photos was when I walked through Shinsaibashi one day to discover they’d begun the process of ripping out all the neon signage and replacing it with more energy efficient modern lighting. I get it. Neon and incandescent signage is inefficient and expensive to maintain. But… history… The new Dotonbori is… not the same.
I have no idea what the new fish market will be like, but I know that when it opens this month, it won’t be like Tsukiji. That’s probably a good thing. Tsukiji was a madhouse. It was never intended to be the tourist destination it became, and the powers that managed the fish market were always balancing the restrictions of the law, business sense, and a desire to engage with the tourists. And that desire was there, despite what grumpy ire you’ve seen reigned down on tourists interrupting the workers’ busy days. I had always meant to go back to see the tuna auctions, and ultimately, I never got the chance. Never put things off because you can always go tomorrow.
And that’s the interesting bit about these photos, at the time I took them, they were photos of what is… and now they are photos of what was… a different era. Photos do that. I went to an exhibition a while back that had a collection of photos of places I often go, from 60 years ago. Nevermind the changes that I’ve seen in my time in Tokyo, those photos showed me places I could recognize, and yet there was so much about those places that I didn’t recognize.
The value of a photo appreciates over time, even if it’s just a snap of your cat.