I’m pretty much in the middle of processing my late parents’ analogue photo albums. Firstly I photograph each page and import the images into Lightroom and check that they are okay. Then I take the pages out of the album and remove the covering film. Then I look at each page and decide which images I will keep and scan and which I will discard. The process looks like this.
As I carry out this task I feel a very real sense of change. The albums were originally created by and intended for mum and dad: it was their way of holding memories. But now the photos are serving a similar function – holding memories – but for a different audience. So for example, I don’t necessarily want to keep 15 photos mum look of St Michael’s mount in 1983 do I?
As I process the albums it’s interesting to consider the discarded. For example, looking at the photo album pages without the photos still offers a sense of narrative – see below. (These images put me in mind of Martha Rosler’s The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems.)
Moreover I am aware that ubiquitous items of the past often become rare and valuable sources of knowledge over time. This is partly why I have photographed every page of the album.
I don’t know what use or value these sort of images will be in the future but it seems a sensible approach to me as I have the time to scan the images.
Much of the value of the albums is arising from the process of photographing, scanning and selecting images. For example, take this image of my brother Steve.
I don’t think I have seen this photo in over 20 years, but this process meant I saw it and all sorts of memories came flooding back about that time. It was taken in 1980 and one either Steve’s first car or one of them. I has been injured just over a year before and was desperately trying to find a new way of finding purpose in life. Mum was at her heaviest because she was eating out of stress.
Don’t you think the image just oozes of the era? I saw Steve last night. He’s grey now and retires at the end of September. Doesn’t time fly…