Saving and Sharing Those Photographs

Dad and MimMy grandmother with my father.  I can hear her laughing in the photograph.

With the temperature this morning hovering above zero and it having been that cold for what seems like forever more and more projects are sadly being started indoors.  It’s usually about this time of year when small things start outdoors and move into the bigger spring things.

The past few days have seen a plethora of collections of old photographs being shared with me on social media.  All of them are old and people have had to scan them.  A cousin commented on how wonderful it was that we had all of these hard copies (pre 1950) to share and wondered about how this would continue.  My entire career in photography was based on film.  If in color another lab would process and print it, if black and white hours were spent in a darkroom.  All along the whole process there was something I could hold in my hand.  My negatives were filed meticulously by date and subject and I can still put my hands on them if I need to find something.

With the dawn of the digital age and my activity in it I have had to deal with keeping and finding my files in a whole new way.  I still file everything by date (even though each image is time stamped), then each year is filed in its own folder.  I then make copies of my files and keep them on portable hard drives – sorry, I can never be too careful.  To add another layer at the end of every year I go through all of the files of photographs for that year and pick the best – the ones that would hurt me to lose.  I have them printed and bound into a book.

I started doing that with my first digital camera probably in the late 90’s.  I can’t say that we look at them a lot but they are there and I like having them.  It’s really no different than all of those black and white photos my mother glued onto the black paper of her scrapbooks (or her mother before her).

What I consider the most wonderful part of this digital age of photography is the ability to share all of it – new and old – with your friends and family.  Long ago I scanned almost all of the collections of family photographs as a way of preserving them, putting them in chronological order and sharing them.  I’ve found I have a profound reaction when seeing photographs of my loved ones from long gone that I have never seen before.  This has been made possible through the internet and social media.  My great aunt passing spawned something that started out as a way for people to bond, share their loss and find joy in knowing those that are no longer with us. All of that happened but now it is helping us all to have a better understanding of who we are as individuals.  Genealogy does that to some extent but this puts faces to the stories and the stories are told as the photographs are shared, by mulitiple people.  It’s like sitting in a room with all of your relatives (many I have never even met) talking about people that you loved.  You get so many different perspectives and then you learn that so and so’s child looks just like her Memere.  It’s pretty great.

Today the take away for me it that my father’s family loved life and family so very much.  They laughed – a lot.  They were practical jokers and could laugh at themselves.  We remember the French, the broken English and how all of it translated into love of family (whether we understood the words or not).  We are diminished in a way by their passing but in sharing the photos and stories we see that it continues on in ourselves.

 

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