Time Travel

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.

old photographs: japanWhile 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.

peruThe 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.

UPDATE: The PHOTO section has now been expanded to include 3 new galleries. Each contains about 24 pictures, accessible via thumbnails. Please go take a look.

7 thoughts on “Time Travel”

  1. Hi Jamie,
    These elephant illustrations you’ve been working on are awesome! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. I hope you are doing well.
    I just got my blog started up in the last month. I hope you will check it out when you get a chance.

    keep up the amazing work

  2. I like these photos Jamie. Where is the “killing field” with all of those human bones? Very frightening.

    What I find interesting about the persistance of memory, is how quickly the names of my relatives are forgotten.

    I’ve been talking to my mom lately, and after a couple of generations, all names of my ancestors have faded.

    It’s one egotistical reason that I make books; I want my family to have some chance to remember who that kooky/bald/chubby guy was.

  3. Robert>> I am so glad that you started your OWN blog. I already added it to my blog links, so that means you have to update on a regular basis!

    Daniel>> I know exactly what you mean. In fact, I had that exact same thought; that I don’t even know my great grandparents’ names let alone anything about them…. It is sad how quickly we are forgotten, even by the people closest to us.

    Speaking of long forgotten humans, the field of bones was a very creepy place in the desert outside NAZCA, Peru. NAZCA is more famous as the place where there are GIANT pictures drawn in the desert sands that can only be seen from an alien space craft (or low flying CESSNA which is how I saw them).

  4. Wow, amazing photos Jamie. You’re one of those jerks that’s good at everything aren’t you…

    That picture from Peru is not only a stunning image, but a fantastic composition.

    I love the top black and white photo as well. Look forward to seeing the new gallery!

    Hope you had a GREAT Christmas. Happy New year!

    • John>> Well thanks for the compliment, I am glad that you liked these photographs. I think that it pretty easy for anybody to take at least a few interesting pictures when travelling in exotic places. Standing in front of a field of bones, (or Mt Fuji or what have you) it is hard NOT to take at least one decent pic… especially if you snap off roll upon roll (as I did). Shoot a few in B/W for extra artsy fartsy value and there you go!

      Taking compelling photos at home or in familiar surroundings is much much harder.

  5. Great stuff matie! Loved the pictures, a real blast from the past.

    To think that you are still using the old Nikon. I remember the day you bought it. We weren’t even sure it would work.

    Also remember that Greg (the man mountain) had his undies swiped in the same place. To think a theif was willing to jump from balcony to balcony three stories above a crowded street just for a pair of grunters.

    I still wonder what happend to them? Maybe a circus is still using them as a tent somewhere in Peru.

    Keep up the good work and I cannot wait to get hold of a copy of the new book.

    • Stuie!! Thank you for coming by. Your comments on the photos are much appreciated, especially as you star in a few of them! I had forgotten about the underpants thief…. I think a very large and sweaty man having his under-crackers stolen is a clear example of when theft ceases to be theft and becomes a fetish of some kind.

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