Not long ago photographs lived in rolls
of film in my camera until the roll was done and the pictures were
developed. Poring through the pictures, sorting them, giving some
away and sometimes creating an album was an exciting process!
Technology brings unexpected changes. Digital images are free and
freeing. There is no additional cost to taking too many pictures and
the photographer is freed to take as many pictures as necessary. I
have already written about the process of coping with the pictures
from my camera. Lately I have delved into exploring actual pictures
spanning more than a century.
This month I have been working on digitizing my mom's archive of old photos. My mom, an only child has photos and letters exploring her mother's history as well as her own. So on Saturday's I sit on in footstool in her sizable walk-in closet, masked and socially distanced, and take photos of the pictures. By first making a folder (literally, folding a piece of acid-free paper) at the start of each session, and at rough changes in topic or format in the the pictures, numbering the folder and taking a photo of it to mark where it begins, the photos have a numbered location. As I work I share photos with her that I am curious about or that seem particularly interesting. She shares insights, identifications, stories, which I scribble down. I take pictures of these notes as well as any writing on the back of the photos to refer to later.
Later, sitting at my own computer I tidy up the images. Straitening and cropping but being careful not to crop out information such as dates. I rename the photos if there are names or notes that need to be added. However I leave the image number to help keep them in the original order. I also organize the photos in numbered folders reflecting where the originals are at my mom's house. This way it should be possible to locate the originals if anyone wants access to make a better copy or simply for display.
The fun part is sharing the pictures! I have invited my family members to a drop-box folder containing the numbered folders with the pictures. I also share the pictures with my mom both as I am digitizing and the next week when the photos are ready to share. It has been a lot of fun to reminisce with my sisters and my mom about our youth. It has been even more exciting to learn a bit more about my grandmother, her relations and life at a very different time.
My mom has been enthusiastic about this project and we have selected a few favorite images for a folder that rotates on her computer home screen. She also plans to pick a few favorite photographs to display in her home.