I set out my original thoughts about curating my late parent’s photograph albums here and (restated below).
- Provide a summary of my family’s life. What they did and who they were.
- Offer representations that show change within individuals. So viewers get an overall sense of the person from birth, through to old age.
- Offer a sense of cohesiveness and coherence in terms of aesthetic and form. I want the images to work together as pictures rather than just as documents.
However, while these aims are laudable many associated issues are being thrown up as I digitise the photos. For example, how should I label them? By their original labels? By new ones more meaningful to me? For example, nan Dunbar was always known as Fanny, her middle name and not her first name which was Miri. Mum was always known as Jean, her middle name and not Muriel, her first name. Dad was always known as Harry rather than Henry and so on. But this isn’t just an issue of labelling: the issue is one of identity and it has become key. Take this photo below. How should I label it? All of the following are correct:
Dad, Harry, Henry James Lawson Mansell, Man, soldier, white male, etc…
One way of addressing this would be to use the original labels. But these were made by mum and dad for their use of the photos as a reflection of our family history. So the images made sense and had meaning for them from that point of view, but not necessarily for anyone else.
Another way of addressing this is to label the images with the formal names of people. But these loses something real and intimate about the images. They are in my family album after all.
I am not sure how I will address this in terms of labels but one thing is for sure: the electronic format of presenting the images will allow me to offer multiple perspectives on the images. For example, I could categorise them in multiple ways: year, name, relationship to me, single portrait, family group etc. and then allow the viewer to choose how to view them. However because there are so many ways I could categorise them I might be better off using tags and keeping just a few categories such as decade.
I could label the individual photos by year, name, and album number as this would allow the viewer to locate the original documented image as it looks in the original family album.
Still, I don’t have to worry about this for a while as I am only just beginning to scan the images in. However as I’ve been going along lots of ideas have come to mind. For example have a look at these…
The photos are of my mum and her work friends in 1946. The series got me thinking about the unwitting historical testimony the photos hold. The clothes, hair and style all seem steeped in the 1940s. I then began creating a set of of them like this below.
And then I started experimenting with evocations.
But maybe this set is a processing step too far…
What do you think?