Monday, 25 February 2013

Out of the shadows, into the light.......

In the early 1970’s cine film, 35mm slides, carousels and projectors were all the rage, heralding a new age for photography and home cinematograph. Like many people at that time my parents embraced this new phenomenon and consequently all snaps from that era were captured in this format.

I remember growing up and wondering why photographs of my family and I only started when I was about 7 years old and wondered if I had been adopted perhaps. The reality was less dramatic. It was merely that the projectors and carousels that displayed these pictures were not wholly reliable and when they did break they were expensive to service. When the fashion moved back to traditional cameras and developed film those broken machines were consigned to the loft and the slides and reels of film were left degrading in cupboards somewhere. 

I've subsequently spoken to other people in the same situation who possess or worse have thrown away huge collections of slides and films. Crucial moments captured in time, preserved in aspic but hidden from view or in a moment of carelessness abandoned in landfill.

Just recently, I started scanning and cataloguing old photographs and storing them in the cloud where they can be accessed for years and years to come and shared with people who care about their contents.

I’ve found that when you scan old photos a new life is breathed into the image. Free from the tatty, grizzled and often sub-standard paper they were originally printed on, they take on a new life. I can zoom around exploring hidden details and fixing flaws that have annoyed me for years. I started with my own photos last year and intend to work my way through other peoples collections. 

For Christmas I was generously bought a 35mm slide and photograph scanner. I asked my Dad to lend me the dusty collection of slides that had spent the last 40 years in one loft or another.  After a couple of false starts and some choice swearing I finally got everything working and was instantly rewarded with some unbelievable artefacts, snapshots of my life that I knew existed but had remained hitherto unseen.

Like talking through other peoples dreams, looking through someone else's photographs is an activity that should be endured for no more than a few seconds, so I'll spare you the full slideshow. I've shared the whole collection with my wider family particularly those who are either in the photographs or more poignantly have lost someone who is in them. That for me has been the most rewarding thing about this experience. 

I lost my mum to cancer when she was aged just 48 and though it was over 17 years ago I still miss her incredibly for many reasons not least her great intellect and observational dry humour. Seeing her as a beautiful young woman and mother has helped to reanimate the memories that grief would not allow me to hold on to. Sufficient time has passed now that the photographs feel poignant rather than tragic, comforting as opposed to haunting. The images I have now have coloured in my imagination and allowed me to connect with her again.


  1. Hi Alan

    I have really enjoyed the photos I have so far seen. We had a good craic the other day captioning some of them via e mail. You are also right about the way they evoke memories of people we have lost, you remember people as they were in the photos, full of life, humour and Character