Old images come in so many forms, presenting challenges to the writer of family histories. While the speed of format change in picture-taking has not been as swift as it has for video or computer format changes, still, making use of old images in current family history books is not a straightforward endeavor.
In an earlier blog I referred to my working on assembling a book about my brother David's world travels as a young man. My husband David scanned the relatively few slides brother David had kept (after many purges!) of his travels, and we are including them in the book.
Having mastered the scanning of slides, which included equipment, software and the acquisition of the necessary skills, David has moved on to scanning the slides we ourselves took from the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies. For the past several weeks we (he scanning, I assisting with identification) have together scanned one slide tray of 40 slides a day, and at the end of the task, with roughly 2000 slides scanned, moved on to the sets of slides my parents assembled for their four children.
This process of scanning our own slides has been a visit to the past. The slides were by no means in good order, with evidences of past use showing in the disorder. For some of the images, no identifying recollection was available. Others we think we had not looked at since the images were produced. For only a pitiable few was there information written on the card holder of the slide. The numbering of the slide trays LOOKED logical but the slides within usually bore no resemblance to the label on the tray.
I understand this is fairly typical.
As we have gone along we have chosen some of the images to be printed, and are sharing these with various family members. The bulk of these printouts will become a book in a single copy. For the full complement of images in the computer, there is grist for several additional books, but at this point the thought of putting those into my work plan is too daunting to contemplate. Maybe next year.
All this is preliminary to the reflection that has been going on about the nature of family picture-taking.
Pictures are taken for many reasons, most boiling down to the desire to preserve for the future some aide-memoir of a present event. So far so good.
When traveling we also took many pictures of the scenery, buildings and places customarily in the viewfinder of tourists. What we find remarkable now is how little they interest us, decades on, compared to the ones we took of family members. Even dramatic shots of the Arizona Meteor Crater or the Devil's Tower seem worth preserving in the computer only if there are family members in the foreground.
Further: if the image is a typical tourist one and without family members in evidence, there is probably a much better picture of that scene available in a picture postcard. We certainly found that to be the case when trying to take pictures of cathedral ceilings in England! But strangely, those purchased images too are of little interest now.
A week further on: "the main herd" is now in sight. I have in hand, ready for more scanning, the big boxes of slides my parents gave to their four children when they were reducing the "stuff" in their lives.
More book potential. I suppose I should at least LIST the potential books but at the moment, the prospect is intimidating.
More reflections about photographs, in their various incarnations, are buzzing around in my head but this entry is too long already. Suffice it, at this point, to say that there will be more on the subject at another time.