6 Comments

  1. lentigogirl
    September 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    There’s a wonderful online collaborative art project, The Imaginary Family Project, where each week an author makes up a story about the people in a “lost” vintage photograph from a garage sale. http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/art/ It adds a new dimension to the need for digital preservation of photographs.

  2. SWJenn
    September 13, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    As an educator at a history museum, it pains me to see these photos ‘die’. But even within families it happens – my mother’s boyfriend of 20 years just died at 92 years old. He had no other family. When we went through his things we found tons of photos with first names, no locations, few dates. None of us knows who these people are. There were boxes of photos, and we could not keep them all. It was painful to let them go. We did keep things that we could trace to a particular location and I’ll be contacting the local historical society to see if they are interested in any of them. But I’m sure that when we pass, these photos of ‘Grandpa Bill” will not be meaningful to our children and will end up in a bowl.
    So even writing on them and capturing meta-data is not foolproof. If they are not part of a narrative or story that is meaningful to someone, then they will most likely be lost eventually. This is why I’m scanning and scrapbooking them, hoping that maybe telling Grandpa Bill’s story will make him alive enough to unborn generations for them to want to hold on to these treasures.

  3. Red Dirt Kelly
    September 13, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I wanted to first thank you, Leslie, for bringing this poignant topic to light. My brother, Quentin Bomgardner, who is coordinating “The Imaginary Family Project” lentigogirl mentioned had many of the same thoughts. When he discussed them with me, I strongly concurred.

    The vintage photographs you spied, we believe, deserve a history…even if it’s a new one written by a professional or amateur author.

    I am, as I write this, taking a break from documenting a ten day working trip in China. The images are precious and meaningful, but I know that as each day goes by, some small description will become more cryptique…and less helpful.

    Thanks, Leslie, for your good words on photographs…and thanks, lentigogirl for the shout out.

  4. Chris Rusbridge
    September 14, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Thanks Leslie, I’ve been meaning to write a post somewhat along these lines, but perhaps a bit more satirical. We hear all these gloom and doom stories about how our memories in the form of digital photos will be lost, but how many have actually done what would be needed to keep our memories in the form of slides, negatives and prints? Most are unlabelled, undated, some in the wrong sleeves, some faded, some scratched, some chemically decaying. I’ve found all this with my own photos, which I started digitising a few months ago. The slides were a nightmare, all in the wrong sequence, Tasmania mixed in with New Zealand, etc. Negatives are better than prints, I’ve found, because the negative numbers give a clue to the sequence of events. It’s been wonderful, but I’m painfully piecing together my past life! I know things now I would never have known from the photos alone!

  5. Mary Hilliard
    September 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I have had the sad task of handling the papers and effects of several family members who have died, including my late husband. It is very sad when you have to throw away photographs because you don’t know anything about them. And although I would keep the photographs that included the family member, without an accompanying date, place or story, these will eventually probably be discarded also.

    I think that the problem will be much worse with digital photos because people take and keep many more of them and save them in multiple places.

  6. Jamal Murchison
    November 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Great post. I’m going through many of these issues as well..

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