Do you ever take a photo of your child and wonder whether one day he or she will look back at that photo and relive their past? How do you think they’ll view that photo? Will they have to flip through your old computer, your phone, or maybe an old hard drive, to do it? Have you backed that photo up somewhere where it will stand the test of time and survive a crash on your system if something like that should happen? Or do you have a family album where all your family’s history is recorded?
When I was younger, one of my favourite pastimes was to check out my parents albums from when they were younger. It kind of put a jigsaw together for me of when my Dad immigrated to Australia, the ship he came over in, where my parents lived in Geelong West. Their wedding album, albeit in just black and white, was just fascinating. It showed me relatives I’d never met, some of which had long gone, and places I’d never been to.
I looked through those albums so many times but I was always fascinated, and never tired of the photographs. My mother would patiently explain to me who the people in those photographs were and my relationship to them. Those photographs were, and still are, the fibre of our family’s history.
As I got older, our own photos were added to those albums. My brother and I growing up, our birthday parties, first day of school…and eventually the last day of school. My mother kept adding photos to the albums as the copies grew. I even remember that on at least three special occasions, my mother organised for us to visit a professional photographer to do our family portraits (and before you ask, yes I am friends with that photographer to this day) so we could display some on our walls.
Like most children, I hated having my photo taken. But we stood there and smiled and when the photos came back from the lab (at least a week later!!) we’d quickly open the packet and flick through all the photos. We’d have a laugh at the person who’d blinked because they were the one that ruined the photo, and then slip the photos into an album ready to be viewed at a later date.
When digital cameras (and eventually smart phones) came along, all our prayers were answered! We could finally take thousands of photos, see them right away and delete the blinks all at zero cost!! Plus, we could store them on floppy disks that took up less room and they’d be there forever. Well the floppy disk was quickly made obsolete and CD’s and DVD’s took over. CD’s are now on the way out by the way, but anyway, who needs those, our phones now have 128 gig of space in them!! Why would we need to store things on CD anyway? Oh wait, the CD has gone, we’re now storing them on Hard Drives…who needs those anyway, I have 128 gig remember!! AND I have them right in my pocket all the time and they will be there forever, won’t they?
The family album, which I so vividly remember flicking through the pages in our Geelong West home, is in danger of extinction, if not already lost to time. I keep telling myself that I need to print some of my digital pictures and make an album but I never get around to it and, because there are now thousands of digital files, the task becomes more daunting by the day.
Printing them isn’t something that needs to get done just for me but for my daughter who, if she’s anything like me, will be amazed by looking at actual photos of myself and my wife when we were young and of her grandparents, aunts and uncles. A digital file can’t be kept in an album and many files will unfortunately disappear as technology makes previous storage media redundant. In the ever-evolving digital age, old printed photos of our ancestors or relatives have become a prized treasure in the lives of young people as they piece together their own jigsaw of life.
Photographs tell us where we came from and help give many a sense of importance.