I well remember the family slide shows of the 1970s when dad would display the old pictures from his and mum’s younger days (but only if the bulb hadn’t blown again.) These were childhood memories that I thought were lost until I found the old 35mm slide collection in a box and decided to do something about bringing them back to life.
Given that the projector was long gone, I went about scanning them myself: at first with trepidation at the scale of the task but soon with greater and greater ease as I learned new tricks and techniques. Now I have hundreds of digital images from the 1940s up to the 1980s. Many are so good they look as if they were taken yesterday: others had faded or discoloured but these days it’s possible to get excellent and accurate results from cleaning up and re-colouring – look at what Peter Jackson and his team managed to do with the WW1 footage for They Shall Not Grow Old, for instance. Granted, that was on a big-time budget but the technology that this relied upon is available to all.
What I also quickly learned was that other family members were keen to see the old photos. These days, it’s easy to achieve this via email or WhatsApp. The recent reliance on families staying connected only digitally has made this the only viable way of sharing such images. For older family members, this also gives them, perhaps during a Zoom call with a screen-share, the chance to explain the circumstances of the photograph and the people in it – the past will come flooding back to life, to be understood and enjoyed by all. Instant and accessible nostalgia.
There are many ways that these newly digitised images can be used and displayed but, unless you merely want a few framed photos on the wall, some kind of structure might be needed. Photobooks can now easily be created with the images gathered together in any way you choose and viewable by whoever you invite. The experience of turning the pages of a big photo album can’t be completely recreated online, of course: but, unlike the the originals from our childhood, the digital versions aren’t heavy, fragile and only available in one place at a time.
So then I did the same for some friends: now it’s a little business making other people smile when they once again relive their own family’s photographic history. Many people think that such a digitisation job is long and expensive. The good news is that it isn’t. So, if you or anyone in your family has a box of old images in the attic (perhaps deteriorating by the day) and if you feel that any relatives would benefit from having ready, easy and permanent access to these, get in touch. You supply the images and audience, in other words, and I can take care of the bit in between
For more information, please feel free to contact me.