Friday, September 02, 2005

Creating History with Photographs and Scrapbooks

By Christina VanGinkel

A good friend asked me recently why I scrapbook. My reply was quick, but long. I scrapbook because I love to take photographs, and after a day of shooting, and printing the ensuing photos taken, I have some inherent need to show them off, to share them with others in all their glory. I scrapbook because I have a strong sense of family history, I want my children and grandchildren, and their grandchildren's children to know about their past. When my parents passed away, I was left with a box of photographs that are wonderful in their own right, yet I do not have a clue as to whom most of the people in these photographs are. I do not want this to happen with the photographs I take, or the new ones my family are kind enough to share with me. I first label each new photograph I take or am given, with an acid free pen lightly across the back, and then scrapbook them as time permits, and I also journal along with the photographs as I put them into my scrapbooks.

With my new digital camera, I also journal digitally, creating DVDs of both photographs and short videos to share with future generations. Through these DVDs, my hope is that not only the visual capabilities will be accessed, but also the sounds and expressions of our current lives will now be able to be displayed in the future, long after we have passed. I sometimes imagine what it would be like; if I had a video of my parents and their siblings when they were kids, if it would have allowed me to better understand them as I was growing up. I alone have taken quite a bit of video of my grandson, so that his children someday will have a front seat view to their father's life as he was formed into the fine man he will surely be one day.

Another reason I scrapbook is because the first time I saw a display full of scrapbook products, stickers, stencils, pens, papers, and fancy tools, I was in love. I saw all the possibilities just waiting there amongst all the exciting designs and supplies. As an avid photographer, I just new that I now had an excuse to take even more photos than I already did.

I know I told her even more reasons at the time she asked me why I scrapbook, but in reflection, the main reason I scrapbook is because it has become an ingrained part of my day. It provides relaxation after a day of dealing with life, of watching horrendous news stories, and realizing that not everybody is as nice as others are. It provides a way for me to connect with my kids, both my oldest down to my youngest. It creates reminiscing, which in turn brings about conversations that are perfect ways for families to stay connected. It gives me a craft that I can easily share with my family. My daughter loves to give me scrapbook supplies for the holidays, as I do in return for her. My youngest son likes to see the pages I create with his photos, and has gone from grimacing every time I pull out my camera at a family event, to reminding me not to forget my camera. He is even turning into quite the photographer himself in the process. I scrapbook!

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