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Friday, 06 February 2009


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I wish you hadn't told us that.

If he could trash them he is not more nostalgic than I am.

I'm reminded of NPR's StoryCorps project. This provides a recorded oral history archive.

I would love to see a "PictureCorps" where we could scan/upload images with as much text/story as we know into the description. It may mean absolutely nothing to us or even the next three or four generations, but someday this kind of history is worth more than gold.

This wouldn't be anything like Flickr, which is just this decade's version of AOL or the previous decade's version of Compuserv (flash in the pan, hard-drives will be deleted at some point), but should be completely run by a proper curator, ie, a cultural heritage institution.

That's why I decided to be buried in concrete with all my pictures. In, say, 3000 years it could be that some archaeologist, eventually not human, will find me and finally I will have my 15 minutes of Warhol's glory.

I can see the projector going into the recycle bin (not the trash please!!!!), but the slides ... Did he try to offer them to a local historical society or archive? There are groups who will take such items in the hope that they have a future cultural historical role.

That's a very sad end but reinforces the message that we should be getting copies of our important family photos out to people. We're lucky to live in an age in which there's no need to distinguish between original and copy.

BTW, some tips on labelling and looking after prints from the experts here would make for a useful article or discussion. I get conflicting advice about what to use to write on the backs of inkjet prints and digital chemical prints (the sort generated from JPEGs using lasers on Fuji Crystal Archive at the local photo lab). I was using unsharp pencils but even heard something bad about that idea. (And it's difficult to get them to write.)

If software houses and printer manufacturers would produce combinations of applications, printers and media that came close to current quality and archive standards but allowed the printing of keywords, dates, filenames and captions on the _backs_ of photos (with no risk of ink seepage) wouldn't there be a lot of interest? This is the kind of thing that computers should be good at and the quality of the captions doesn't need to be great. Potentially condemning my carefully colour-corrected and sharpened, Wilhelm-rated output at birth feels silly.

How sad - actually there are those who collect old family images, especially since vintage has gone up in price and rarity. One of the things I stress to people is to make a plan for their images. Rather than risk having a lifetime of work tossed into the trash, scan the best slides or negs and print those in book form. Its much more likely that family members will keep the books and pass them along. I also read somewhere that the best of such books could well end up as collectibles in the future. Mike Disfarmer's images were only found in a small town's scrapbooks once and now are worth a fortune. I'll bet he never had a thought that would happen. Its something to think about.

So he wrote that sentimental article & then trashed them? At least ebay them.

The painful truth is that practically no one will care about our family photos 50 or 100 years from now. There is a window of maybe 40 years during which folks break out the photo album and reminisce about family vacations, birthday parties and back yard ponies.

My grandparents disposed of practically nothing during their lives so recently my father gave me a large plastic tub of photographs his aunt took between 1905 and 1920. I have only a vague idea of who the people in the photographs are but I really enjoy browsing through the box. It’s a different world of Sunday afternoon picnics and Model T’s, all of the men wearing ties and hats, and my grandfather as a young man.

I have my great-aunt’s No. 1-A Kodak Jr. right next to my great-grandmother’s Vest Pocket Kodak Model B on a shelf here above my desk. I alone find these cameras and photographs interesting but they give me pause to consider my family. So be it.

Perhaps each community could start a Brautigan Library http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Abortion
of Photography that could house images that have reached the trough of no personal value.

The meticulous handwriting, the vintage slide trays, and oh, those perfectly sculpted G's...

All that love and care and dedication rescued from certain oblivion simply for the love of posterity!

And then trashed into oblivion one post later!!! Hey, honey- what's for dinner!

"The painful truth is that practically no one will care about our family photos 50 or 100 years from now. There is a window of maybe 40 years during which folks break out the photo album and reminisce about family vacations, birthday parties and back yard ponies."

Except for, say, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, artists, school teachers and other, numerous, people who rely on historical ephemera for study or evidence.

One possibly grateful recipient may have been the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players
whom I had the great pleasure of seeing perform in Bath, UK recently...... a memorably bizarre experience. I couldn't even begin to explain it - see them, or at least visit the site!

Now I know what I'll do with my dad's old 8mm movies, of which I've hoarded all these years. The movies of our vacations and birthdays and Christmases (and the opening of I-94 going downtown to Milwaukee).

Metal 'Focal' boxes(5) of 10-400' reels that I don't dare show again since the splices might come apart. All those clouds out West to the Grand Canyon and those feet with no heads in Glacier Nat'l. Park. Not to mention the new garage and when they put in the pool in the backyard in Tucson.

Never did like rummage sales.

I wish you hadn't told us that either.

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