Skip to comments.Lessons from the Photo Box
Posted on 07/11/2013 2:32:13 PM PDT by Kaslin
Here's something you should do if you haven't done so in a while: visit your mother and father and get out the old photo box.
Surely you have one. Ours is in my parents' hall closet. It's in a sturdy old Pabst Blue Ribbon beer case.
Lucky for me, I needed some photos for a humor speech I am giving about growing up in the '70s and I had a reason to go through the old photos.
As my mother and I dug through the box, I came across a black-and-white photo of a little girl. She's holding a stuffed toy as she looks suspiciously into the lens of the camera.
That photo was taken 75 years ago, when the girl had her whole life before her. She didn't know yet that one of her sisters would be struck with polio 12 years later, that her father would die at 49 just a month before her wedding, or that she'd have six healthy children and 17 grandchildren.
That was my mother's picture. It was taken when she was 2.
I found my father's black-and-white high-school graduation photo. He was trim and handsome -- a thick head of hair. The photo had red coloring around his lips. When I asked my mother what it was, she explained.
When he was away in the Army, she used to kiss the photo. The red coloring was her lipstick.
My parents' wedding photos are striking -- both of them so young and attractive. She was 19 and he was 23. They had very little money, but it was 1956, a time of hope and optimism. They were intent on building a life together.
Many other photos from over the years show that they succeeded.
The old Polaroids, in their greenish, yellowy hue, documented so many instances in their lives: the new home built in 1964; Jingles, our beloved mutt dog born in 1972, getting a bath, which she hated; birthday parties, Christmas mornings and many other family events.
The newer photos document the thinning and graying hair, the high school and college graduations, the surprise party we threw for my father when he turned 50 and, eventually, the surprise retirement party.
These photos transport me right back to those moments I knew as a kid, both sad and happy: the cold January day in 1972 when my grandmother died and my father sobbed; the sound of my father driving around the neighborhood calling out for our dog the time she disappeared for three days; the Friday evenings sitting around the dinner table laughing with my sisters about everything and nothing at all.
It's bittersweet to go through the old photos. They make me sad. They reflect the speed with which time is passing -- the speed with which time is aging us all and, in the process, taking so many people I love away from me.
But those photos fill me with calm. They make me remember how blessed I have been to be given the family I was given -- how blessed I've been to go through life with such a colorful cast of characters.
They bring perspective and clarity -- they help me see the long view, something I forget to do far too often. They remind me that every day and every moment really is precious.
That is all a photo is, too: a snapshot of a moment in time. It locks our world and our lives in place, so we can see and feel and understand the deep meaning in them.
Our fast-paced world is in desperate need of such perspective. As our markets crash and our politics get ugly -- as the media report every day on the various ways the sky is falling -- we need to stand above the fray. We need to keep hold of ourselves.
I know a perfect way to get started.
If you're lucky enough to still have your parents in your life, go to their house and get out the old photo box.
Beautiful lady - no wonder ....
When Alzheimers hammered my mother into an almost non-communitative state, one of her true joys was going through the old photo albums.
...get out the old photo box.
And, get those negatives and slides scanned. I cannot stress this enough. If you have hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of negatives or slides, invest in a good quality scanner. Many scanners have proprietary programs which can scan a color negative and removes the scratches and dust. Often, they will be able to scan B&W negs of unusual sizes. Scan at the highest possible resolution.
And, utilize the Paisan approach to Purchase: Buy the very best you can. If you cannot afford it because it is too expensive, THAT is the one to get...
She is beautiful
Because, remember, EVERY photograph, is an historical document, worthy of the utmost care and preservation.
I will second that.
The old Polaroids,
Just reading the word and I can smell those old Polaroids. My dad had one of the really old ones where you had to peel off the picture and rub some kind of a chemical filled sponge over it.
Not exactly unpleasant but very distinctive. Nothing in the world like it.
Come, look with me inside this drawer, In this
box I've often seen. At the pictures, black and white.
Faces proud, still and serene.
I wish that I knew these people, these strangers in the box.
Their names and all their memories are lost among my sacks.
I wonder what their lives were like. How did they spend their days? What about their special times?
I'll never know their ways.
If only someone had taken the time, to tell who, what, when and where. These faces of my heritage, would come to life again.
Could this become the fate
of the pictures that we take today?
The faces and the memories.
Some to be passed away?
Take time to save your stories. Seize the opportunity when it knocks, or someday you and yours could be the strangers in the box.
I could not agree more.
Scanning photos which then can be distributed to the ever-enlarging family is a great idea!!!
DO NOT destroy all the boxes of originals you have.
One of my classmates from HS did just that—now, every single memory is only on CD’s-—which will not survive as long a time as those original photos have survived.
I have pics of my grandfather- whom I never knew- black & white from the early 1920’s. Those are treasures.
Pics I had as a teenager & prior got destroyed because my first husband was a jealous fool who wanted complete control over me.
over 50 years latee, I have NEVER forgiven him for those lost photos. I also haven’t forgiven myself for being browbeaten into destroying them. I can NEVER get them back.
What's the best way of dealing with the fact that originals may for various reasons decay to the point that they become inferior to digital copies of them? I think having the originals, even if their condition is poor, may help the digital copies seem more tangible, but how far should preservation efforts go on the originals?
Also, do you have any sense of what sorts of compression should or should not be used with still or moving pictures kept for archival purposes. Certainly effective "digital restoration" efforts often require that a file contain more information than would be visible to the naked eye, but how far beyond naked-eye visibility should one go?