Sunday, March 11, 2007

Old Time Photos


I have always been fascinated with old photos. Even as a kid I loved to open up my grandmother's old desk and pull out photo albums and flip through the pages, making up my own stories about the people and places in faded photographs. More often than not I had to make up stories because my grandmother couldn't remember who half the people were anyway.

That's the thing about photos. Unless you write down who the people in the photographs are, eventually they will just be random people captured in eternity by light and chemicals. At least digital images automatically record the time the photos were taken so you will always have some clue about when they were taken if not who they were taken of.

I treasure all of my family photos. I love looking into the faces of family I never knew or the young images of my parents or grandparents when they still had the spark of youth and hope. They are my window to the past...my past.

Years ago I bought a box of old photos at an auction. They were random images of people, many of them out of the early 1900s. They were nameless people, mainly posing for portraits in long gone photographer's studios from the past.

I find it sad when I find old photographs at auctions or in antique stores. It means the families of these people either didn't care or the photos ended up in the trunks of someone who died and didn't have any family to pass them onto. Either way, the photos symbolize to me the lost souls of people who will never be remembered.

I've scanned most of those old photographs of unknown people. And every now and then I use them on my blog. I occasionally put myself into the photographs to symbolically give the people some connection in a world that has forgotten them.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm helping these people's soul live on though their names have been forgotten along with the stories of their lives.

I like to think that anyway.

8 comments:

Madame Butterfly said...

You are such a kind man Tim. I feel the same way about old houses from last century that you often see falling down and dilapidated in paddocks in country Australia.

Often they only have part of their walls standing, no roof and they look sad.....It makes me wonder about the people who used to live there, what happened to them and was it once a happy home. Kinda makes you feel all melancholy...

Hayden said...

humm. I confess, when I saw that you bought photos at auction my ears pricked up. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of old photos that ended with me. I've given as many as I can (translate, as many as they'll take) to my niece and nephew, and still there are more, just hanging on me like a weight.

all of this accumulation was meant for people with attics and basements.

it's lovely to have a small box of treasured photos, representations of special people at special times. But a photo every time they turned around? too much........maybe that's why I don't take many photos.

Tim ID said...

Madame Butterfly,
I don't how kind I am, but thank you. Yes abandoned houses make me sad as well. Reminds me of just how fleeting lives can be.

Hayden,
When my oldest brother was born, my parents documented almost every day of his first year. My second brother only had about six months photographed regularly. When I cam around they snapped a couple of photos and the next thing you knew I was graduating from high school. Funny how that happens. Digital photography now allows us to indulge the urge to document (commemorate) without having to store shoebox after shoebox of unsorted photographs. Now they are stuffed in flashdrives and CDs.

Lights in the wake said...

It's funny to see how hair and clothing styles have changed. You don't even have to go back a whole century. Just look at any rerun of Barney Miller or Bob Newhart from the 70's and you'll see some of the weirdest things.

Tim ID said...

Lights,
You are still moping about that photo of you with your stuffed animal collection back in college, aren't you?

Miss Bliss said...

I'm always fascinated by very old photographs because I like to imagine how different the people in the photos would look in today's hairstyles or fashion. It almost seems as if bone structure has changed somewhat, although that may be due to the fact that no one smiled. This, of course, was due to photos taking so long; smiling would have ended up looking fake or pained.

I like that you have rescued old photos from the fate of the forgotten. You don't need to know their names, you just need to acknowledge that they existed and appreciate them.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

I've seen photos like that in antique stores and thought the same thing ... how did they end up here, who forgot them? I like that you honour these pictures on your blog from time to time. JP

Tim ID said...

Miss Bliss,
Smiles do tend to look like a grimace when held for more than a few seconds.

JP, Thanks. it gives whole new meaning to the phrase, "take a picture, it lasts longer."