Recently I have been traveling back in time; scanning mountains of old photographs taken as far back as primary-school, and in various countries around the world. It has been fun to trade e-mails with ex co-workers, school friends, and old travelling companions, about the memories that the pictures have dredged up… “Wallowing in Nostalgia” was the term used by my old pal Gary Page.
While sorting these pictures, and adding them to iPhoto in chronological order, I realised that I’d forgotten a lot of details.. Not just names and dates, but the sequence of events. This has led me to think about the frightening impermanence of memory, and how it fades if not sometimes replenished. One of the great things about photographs is that looking at them can help keep our memories alive.
Even before this photo-archiving project, I’d been writing down some funny little fragments of childhood memories just to get them on paper before my mind goes completely. Continuing on from this recent Nostalgia-kick, my brother was in town last week, and of course we swapped a few tales from our childhoods.
When I was a kid, I got a simple little Kodak Instamatik camera for my ninth (or tenth) birthday. I never managed to take an in-focus photo with that thing, but that was the all photographic equipment I had until I hit the road. When traveling in Asia I realised that I needed a camera able to do justice to the fantastic sights I was taking in. I upgraded to a NIKON FG20 which did me fine for several years. Unfortunately, it was stolen when I was traveling in Peru (along with a sketchbook filled with sketches of my travels for the 3 previous years). While still in Peru, I bought a fully mechanical NIKON FM2 which I have to this day. I have yet to go digital but that may happen sometime soon.
The period when I took photographs most diligently was from the time that I left Australia until a little after I arrived to live in San Francisco. The time between those two events encompasses a lot of travel, and many adventures in Asia, Europe and South America. It was a period in my life when I took pictures almost everyday for several years.
Part of me is sorry that I haven’t kept that habit up consistently since then. There are some gaps in my photo record. But another part of me is glad I have sometimes laid the camera down. Otherwise there would be even more to scan! As it is, scanning my photo collection is already a massive job.
My habit was to shoot colour slides and Black and White prints. I don’t yet have the means to properly scan slides, so it is the prints that I am doing at the moment, including some prints I had made from my favourite colour slides.
Many of the photos probably wouldn’t be interesting to anyone who isn’t in them. However, a few that I took on my travels in South America, Europe and Asia (such as those shown here) may be of interest to even casual viewers. So I hope to have an updated online PHOTO gallery added to the site in the next few weeks.