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Saturday, February 19, 2011

On looking through a load of old pictures

I've just spent a few hours sorting through hundreds of old family slides with my sister. Once they're hidden away inside unmarked Kodachrome containers, these pictures can spend decades unlooked-at. For every twenty pictures you find that recall people and occasions that you remember, there's one which throws up somebody you have forgotten altogether or another featuring a person you don't remember being there at the time. Once somebody reminds you it's as if you've come across a hidden track in the LP of your life. It makes you realise there are whole episodes of your life you have written out of the official record that you keep in your head, whether through forgetfulness, embarrassment or old-fashioned shame. It also makes you realise that when people tell you about their life, they're only telling you the version they're comfortable with.

13 comments:

  1. OK Mr Hepworth, how about printing some of those forgotten/embarrased photos?

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  2. On most average albums there's usually a good EP trying to get out. Every family always has at least one family member that's airbrushed out of the records. And wasn't it Churchill that said 'history is written by the victors' (?)

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  3. I'm no cerebral expert, but I like to think that the brain is just like one of those boxes of photos. It's all there somewhere, but a great deal of it doesn't spring to mind.

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  5. Very true, Mr Hepworth. The good memories are a delight, but maybe some thngs are better left written out......

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  6. Unlike memories, Kodachromes don't fade. Pity they just discontinued the film. I'm not sure that digital images will endure as well.

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  7. We've been clearing out mum's house over the last few months and turned up some real photo finds. A grubby old slide found down the back of something, and nearly pinged in the bin - turned out be a shot snapped at a circus - of a small chap taming saloon car sized tiger in the flimsiest of cages. Not the sort of thing you expect find in the garage shrapnel..

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  8. Diditise 'em all Mr Hepworth. It's the future don't you know?

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  9. I meant digitise obviously....

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  10. My dad died a couple of years ago, and last year I started scanning his slides and negatives - 850 b&w films and 11,000 slides, starting in the early 1950s.
    I've found loads of interesting odds and sods, and it's been a hugely rewarding experience. I just wish it's something I'd started when he was alive so I could ask him about some of it.
    In a bit of blatant self-pluggery, (apologies Mr H if it's frowned upon) I've been doing a blog of what I've found, at http://mydadsphotos.blogspot.com/

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  11. These are absolutely wonderful.

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  12. What a great idea of Shendy. Old photos are amazing, they evoke memories when you know the people involved and inspire the imagination when you don't. I sometimes browse round Snoopers Paradise and buy old unwanted photos to use as the basis for short stories.

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  13. Thanks for those comments, and thank you for the Tweet Mr H.
    I recommend it to anyone who has any old family pictures. Obviously my dad's collection is quite a bit larger than most would be (he wasn't a professional, just keen and did it for a long time), but it's well within the capability of most people. Buying a scanner that can do negatives and slides is a real help.
    My ongoing concern is what happens to them after me - I don't have children and neither does my brother, and I don't want them ending up in a skip. I might approach a specialist motorsport photo library for those pictures, but I don't know about the rest.

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