A few years ago my mother embarked on a mission which involved uncovering (dusting off) old photographs she’d kept in dusty old boxes and albums over the years. She had (and still has) boxes full of old economy photographic legacies. Print photos, black and white, faded color, creased and dog-eared photographic paper, comprising piles dating back years, decades, and memorializing ancient generational moments frozen in time…the boxes house a cornucopia of familial history. My mom set out to organize the photographs and the task involved having my brother scan all the negatives and prints possible. This digitization project continues to this day, I believe, and the end product has been a vast digital collection of old photographs that would have sat and died in old tattered photo albums otherwise. They will, like all paper-limited artifacts of archaic lore, die in old tattered albums, it can’t be denied. But they will also live digitally on digital media for years to come.
So in addition to the digital reams of digitally photographed images that fragment my hard drive (dating back to the early 2000’s low resolution rudimentary digital camera technology), I also add photographs regularly which predate current camera technology, but which, courtesy of sophisticated scanning apparatuses, now live in harmony with modern, high-res digital offerings. The photographic generations coexisting as one, figuratively and literally, sector by sector!
A cursory search of my desktop’s hard drive informs me of my current image glut:
.jpg files: 18,712
.png files: 20,918
.tif files: 24 (not the most popular format)
.bmp files: 341
.gif files: 1,249
Granted, many, if not most, of these images are Windows systemic or software embedded graphics, but many are photographs and scans that are a bit more warm and human than a .tif image such as this.
For every 20 or 50 drab Microsoft OS graphics, there is also a personal treasure lurking, like this:
Obviously a scanned photo, this yellowing image from the early 70’s captures the blogger in all his smirking glory.
I would love to know the date and location but alas, this is not be known. Geolocation and precise coordinates, temporal and spatial, seem to be a great luxury of the modern digital age. The fun is in the guessing and the detective game we play in order to triangulate the rough approximate metadata that the photo files fails to supply us.
And the guesswork deduction is this. The photo appears to have been taken in the early 70’s since I look to be about 7 or 8; a crowded location, but note that there is a distinct lack of other children. Despite the balloons and the faux Asian temple landmark, I doubt this is an amusement park.
I can only guess. Lack of precision is what makes archaic photographs so mysteriously and intriguingly fun.
The past, through old images, like the technology of the day, shrouds our memories in a hazy fog of imprecision and approximations, an era of blur and instinct, not of sterile measurements and concrete delineations.