Thursday, May 26, 2005

Identifying Photographs

by Christina VanGinkel

One of my ongoing projects for quite some time has been the cataloging and sorting of several boxes of photographs that came into my possession after my mothers passing several years ago. These boxes contain literally thousands of photographs dating back to the early 1900's. Wedding pictures, pictures of hotels, businesses, children, farm animals, family pets, holidays, and more. If you pick an occasion or subject, chances are, I have a picture that would correlate. Would you like a picture of a lone cow standing in a field, a train wreck, or a group of people posing in front of a mine, because I have all of those and more? Honeymoon photos at Niagara Falls, a man, and a child on a chair in front of a chicken coop, people in uniforms declaring their participation in World War 2, even a photograph of a group of people dancing on the stump of a tree so big that there was enough room for all six couples with room to spare.

Sadly, what I do not have is information on who these people are, or even where many of them are. Some are self-identifying, like the photograph of my parents at Niagara Falls. I knew my parents and I was able to read a sign in one of the photographs that identifies Niagara Falls. I also knew they honeymooned there, so I was able to not only place a name and location with the photo, but also an approximate date. The majority of the pictures though, give absolutely no clue whatsoever to whom the people are, or where the photo was taken.

Most digital cameras today will at the least store the date and time the photo was taken along with the digitally stored image. Once the picture is printed though, many of the pictures taken today have no advantage over those from days past.

Thankfully, there are numerous products available today to help us catalog and keep track of all the photographs that we snap. Once you download your digital images to your computer, you can quickly and easily edit and attach any information you would like to store along with the photo. Printed photos should also have a small note of pertinent information written in acid free ink on the back of every photo, or along with it in some type of storage, such as a scrapbook.

Do all of your future relatives a favor and write down who is in each photo, where it was taken, the date, and any other information you feel may shed some light on why the photograph was taken in the first place. By doing this simple task each time you print or download your next batch of pictures, you will be saving your kids and future grandkids invaluable time in looking back at their history. Now if I could just figure out what is so interesting about that lone cow, my curiosity would be satisfied.

No comments: