Some of you make think that this post is part of a master plan to get you to do something with those old photographs. Hardly. Actually, I try to read the magazine Shutterbug. I say, try, because it can get pretty technical. However, I just finished an article titled, “Prints are Precious: Or, in Praise of the Shoebox” (Shutterbug, June 2010) I’ve written before about photography. I really like some of the points that the author, Frances E Schultz has written so I wanted to share them with you.
“Going through the picture box. Real, original prints are a direct link with the past in a way that an electronic image can never be.” This is so true. This past summer we have the lovely opportunity to go through stacks of black and white photos taken as early as 1890 in an old house in Granville. This was a special experience and we thank Vincent and Germain for sharing their family photos with us.
“Old pictures are important – and the only thing that stands between new pictures and old pictures is time. Keep a new picture long enough, and it becomes an old picture. Never mind a life measured in teaspoons. For the last 120 years or more, our lives have been measured in photographs.” Never is this more true than when I pull out our wedding album from 1982. The event was so real and vibrant to us then. Now, they are ‘old photographs.’ Still special, still full of meaning and memories.
“Pictures don’t need to be “good” to be precious.”
“But as long as the picture exists only on a hard drive, or a mobile phone chip, or in cyberspace, it doesn’t really exist. You can’t come across it when you are moving a house, or searching through a closet looking for something else. Yes, you might invite your great-niece or an aged parent or even an old friend’s child, to look through a CD but really, what does it mean? It’s just another picture on a screen, another picture in what Clive James called the haunted fish tank. Are you, or they, or anyone else, going to do a web search for it? Not often, if at all.”
“A picture, a print, a Precious Object, is different: it retains the power to bring tears to our eyes.”
Last quote from the article that I found most endearing is this:
“Print your pictures, and make plenty of copies, and remember what George Bernard Shaw said: the camera is like the codfish that lays a million eggs in order that one may survive, though I suspect that with photographs, the odds are quite a bit better than that. At least they are probably better with real, physical prints. With electronic images, it’s probably not even one in a billion. Take your chances.”
I say, print those precious photographs. Get them in a shoebox or even better, get them in an album that your great, great, great grandchild can one day pick up and flip through. Imagine them pointing to a photograph of you when you were in your 20’s and making comments like, “look at those funny glasses” or “I can’t believe they rode on things like that” or “who would ever eat that.” It their way (and our way) of linking us to our past. And that is precious!