By Christina VanGinkel
Preserving photos is a hot topic lately, what with scrap booking being so popular. I believe that much of this was brought about because so many of us have received boxes of cherished photos that are literally crumbling. Sadly, what our ancestors perceived as a lasting memory for future generations is turning into a box of sadness for many of us. One photo album and a stack of accompanying loose photos that was handed down to me were obviously assembled with care. Each loose photo appears to have names and dates inscribed on their backs, with each photo in the album itself being mounted lovingly on a black paper page. I should be able to match up those with inscriptions to those mounted, but sadly the inscriptions are so faded that even with a magnifying glass, and an attempt to scan the backs to brighten them via some touch ups has not wielded me much luck. The photos themselves are often beyond visual identification themselves, what with their being so severely faded. A few photos were identifiable and I was able to restore a few of the photos by scanning them into my computer and reprinting the, after working them over with photo editing software, but this is still not the same as having the originals for future generations.
I believe that too many of these similar situations have brought about this revival of interest in both scrapbooks and photo archival techniques. No longer are amateur photographers content to purchase just any old film or printing media. A concerted effort to use acid free and lignin free paper, inks, and storage materials is a priority. After putting out the time to both take and assemble these photos/works of art that we call scrapbooks, we rightly want them to be around for our ancestors to view and pass down to their ancestors. We want to save them the heartache and time of trying to identify who is in a given photo. We want them to not only be able to view the photos and know the names and dates, we also want them to be able to read our journaling to have a good idea of what we were doing and thinking at different times in our lives. Why this is so, some people might ask, and after much contemplation, I believe I have an idea of why it is important to some of us at least. It is because of the human nature ingrained in us to want to both live as long as possible, and to at the least leave a legacy to show that our life was lived to its fullest potential, to show those coming after us that it was worth it, this thing we call life. We want to share with them the fun we experienced, along with heartaches and joy, to say that they are not alone when experiencing the same things, which look; your ancestors went through some of the same trials in their lives.
From the earliest sepia toned and black and white prints, to the full color digital prints that many of us can print right in our own homes, often within minutes of snapping the original, photo taking and archival techniques have certainly come a long way, at last!