This week I concluded a very personal project, undertaken for my 92 year old grandfather Mac, to scan photos with in 12 cherished family photo albums. Amazingly some of the photos scanned date back to the early 1900’s. When I first took on this task it seemed to be straight forward… scan a large quantity of images at high resolution for archival purposes and distribute them to family on hard drives. What I didn’t anticipate was the time intensive process helping me see not just the events that were noteworthy to my grandmother and grandfather, but the events that made them who they are.
Perhaps its my age and having just had a child, but the ability to devote hours of time to look over images that span decades hit a nerve. Individually many of the photos were just snapshots, but collectively they were history. A history of universal moments including children being born, graduations, grandchildren being born, vacations, relatives now no longer with us, career milestones, etc. that I myself will no doubt document for my family. Photos I viewed and scanned were not just photos, but time capsules.
My grandfather is holding up incredibly well considering his age, but he does struggle with memory lapses of increasing severity. He has always been an inspiration to many in our family, a self made man trained in the military, and it has blown me away that he’s been so eager to have these photos scanned. I’d never have thought he’d be on email at this late stage in his life, but he is and eager to see his photo albums online. His eagerness to view these images online is driven by motivations other than just seeing them on a computer. With failing vision and most importantly a failing memory these photos are a connection to his past that increasingly escapes him and the ability to enlarge photos on a computer make them easier to see.
This Thanksgiving will be a special time as I get to deliver a family history to him in a digital format. Not only will he get a chance to revisit time & places past, see his late wife & brothers with these photos, but he’ll also be introduced for the first time to the next generation of our family when he meets his great grandson for the first time. This Thanksgiving has been a long time coming in more ways than one and I’m very excited that it has finally arrived.
From my family to yours have a great and safe Thanksgiving… and don’t take those family photo albums for granted.
[tags]photography, family, Thanksgiving[/tags]