My digital archive begins around 2005 with poor-quality photos (both in technique and equipment) and really takes off in 2007 with my first DSLR.
However, I have over two decades of life prior to then. Granted, I wasn’t taking photos for all of that time, but I still have plenty of pre-digital memories. Most of these are in boxes, a few have been preserved in scrapbooks, and many many more are simply somewhere else.
I took lots of photos as a kid, but I don’t really know where they’ve gone. I suspect they’re likely at my parents’ house, and this theory was corroborated by my dad bringing out a stack of old photos he dusted off from a box in the garage when we were there over the holiday. They’re planning a big move, so they’re cleaning house (literally!), and some of these memories are surfacing.
One of our pending projects is to digitize our physical photo collection. More than anything, it serves the purpose of backup. The prints are the only copies of those moments. Were our home to burn down (god forbid), they’d be lost forever. We have a scanner, and I’ve digitized a few photos, but that’s a long, arduous process.
Google to the rescue!
Google just released a new (free) app that lets you take a picture of the physical print and save it as a high-res file. This doesn’t sound like it’d do a good job, but I tested it out on one of the dusty garage photos, and it held up pretty well!
This is good for a quick photo here and there, but I don’t really see myself digitizing hundreds of pictures or old glass photographs in this manner. We might bring in our boxes of prints for professional digitization – less work on our part. For now, it was good enough to bring in these pictures from the past. (As a note, I did not edit any of these digitized prints; these are as close to the original as I could make them.)
When Dad first showed me this photograph, I loved it instantly. This was from when I was the flower girl at my aunt’s wedding 25 years ago. I remember I was responsible for popping the stuffed balloon of confetti over the newlyweds’ heads (though I was deathly terrified of popping balloons) and dancing with my cousin Adam for most of the reception.
I don’t particularly remember this moment, but I love it so much. It made me wish I had it for our wedding. What a sweet image.. a father dancing with his daughter all those years ago and then as father of the bride.. I can be a sappy sentimental sometimes.
Here are a few more from my physical collection.
Of course, I didn’t have the best techniques (or the best cameras), but that didn’t stop me. I chopped heads off, and I was notorious for getting my thumb in on the photo, but the memories are preserved.
I even shot for shows all the way back in high school.
I sometimes miss the higher sentimental value of the former, and I’ve been trying to include more of this in some of my more creative and artistic shots. These older photos have an ambiance of novice nostalgia, and I love them for that, poor quality and all. Perhaps years down the line, I’ll look at the photos I take now with similar reverence. I’ll remember my insatiable passion for the art and the irresistible pull I have to take pictures almost every day.
Though I will no longer need to digitize them (unless there’s some new inconceivable technology by then), they’ll still be evidence of some of the best years of my life.