I love looking at old photographs — being reminded of happy times and again feel those heart-tugs of those no longer with us.
Just recently, I revisited a trip made to Italy a few years ago through the pictures taken. It was a grand time with my sister, Betti, and friends Barb and Sue. We took in all the sites, met wonderful people and experienced a whole new culture we’d previously only dreamed of. We each brought back trinkets to remember those places, but nothing compares to the photos that bring us right back to that trip that now seems surreal.
When we visit antique stores, I am drawn to the portraits of those who came before us. You know, those sepia-toned pictures in heavy, gilded frames with stoic faces looking down upon the treasures of the shop. Usually around some dusty corner there is a stack of old photos for sale and I generally stop to take a peek. I page through them, one by one, imagining the actions of the subjects prior to sitting for the photo, or directly after. Did they walk away smiling, or think the posing was a silly waste of time? It’s kind of unusual to find them smiling for the camera. Some wise soul explained that it was because of poor dental habits, but I don’t know about that. Some look like they are petrified what’s going to be the end result. It’s kind of comical really, but upon looking at those faces of long ago makes we wonder what kind of a life they were living away from the prying lens of the camera.
Then there are the photo albums with pictures of our kids growing up, the young years of our marriage, and all those happy family times sprinkled thoughout. This is where the passage of time is so glaringly clear. Could it really be so long since I held their little hands in mine, waved as they passed on the merry-go-round, or waited patiently as the school bus brought them home from their first day? Now, those pictures wind their way through the years gone by, morphing into pictures of grandkids and their sweet faces.
I someday think I want to try to string a whole novel from a bevy of old photos and see where it takes the imagination. A few years ago, I read “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” where Ransom Riggs did just that. The photos were all quite bizarre in keeping with the story inside, but it was a great read, and the photos added a certain validity to what I had imagined the characters to look like. They brought life to the story in a way that no other method would. And like I said, looking upon old photos gets my imagination going.
I often wonder what people will see of our lives in the future by the photos we take and how they are preserved. Do people put photos in albums anymore? I know that since I’ve acquired a phone with a camera, I am not so diligent at getting photos printed and assembled for viewing.
In these days when we’re struggling to get our social lives back, it can be a good thing to look to the past at what we can hope to have again. Those times will come again and out will come the cameras to capture the moments in which we live.