Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Save Your Photos #23 of 30! What's in a project?
About a decade ago, my aunt asked for my help in compiling a photo album to combine the pictures and stories that my grandparents had amassed throughout their lives.
They had left us a volume of information. Most of the photos were labeled, dated and were loaded with details - truly a blessing. My grandmother had also written a book of all of her personal memories. After searching through the photos, my aunt and I realized how many of the photos were depicted in the stories from her book. Our genealogy had also been chronicled back to the 4th century, again, by my grandmother - a genealogist.
Where some families struggle with a lack of photos and information, our problem was we had so much. It took a lot of pre-planning to determine what we would include in the album, which items we wanted to reproduce for use in the albums and which of the volumes of stories we knew that we would tell in the book. Then, we had to figure out what order the items would go in to best highlight all that we had to work with.
Since my maternal grandmother and grandfather were the main storytellers and also the most recent generation, we decided to begin with the two of them.
First came my grandfather - we told the story of his childhood up to the time that he met my grandmother. Then, we went backwards in his direct lineage as far as we had photos and memorabilia that we could tell stories about.
We presented my grandmother the same way.
Once we had established who they were and from whence they'd come, we told the story of their meeting, their marriage and their newlywed life.
Next, we followed them through their first houses, each of their three children (my mother, the aunt who was making the book with me and my uncle). We took the children through the beginning of their childhoods, basically their early family life.
After that we decided to feature some special categorical chapters of their lives...the lake where they vacationed for many years, their pets through the years, their Christmas traditions, etc...
We didn't use all the items we had - nor did we tell all the stories - there could be many additional albums still to come. But the two-volume photo albums that we produced presented a real picture of who they were and told the stories that they themselves helped to author by being such prolific picture takers, detail labelers and storytellers.
The last time I worked on finishing the album with my aunt, all that remained was to tell (write) the last few stories that accompanied some of the special photos we had chosen. My aunt opted to handwrite all of the captions and stories in the album. We used a combination of black and tan pages, kept our décor simple and our embellishments few. We tried to keep our decorations minimal so that they accompanied but didn't overpower the photos and words.
My aunt debuted the albums to our extended family at a get together this summer. I wasn't able to attend. However, I instructed my aunt to let the family know that I would take on the venture of digitally documenting everything we produced in the two-volume (80+ page) albums in digital format so it could be shared and duplicated for as many family members as would want to possess it.
We decided to scan and digitize every separate image in the album. Each would have very detailed metadata added to it's photo file. We would assure that all family members could access the photos and information those photos contained for generations to come.
We also decided that I would use the individual scanned elements to re-create every album page from the original album and make as close to a duplicate album as is possible. The duplicate album could be printed as a real book and as many copies as were wanted could be produced. It's a big job.
I have now finished scanning every item in the album. I am correctly naming and dating every photo as a file with keywords, correct dates, photo tags, and searchable details. Once complete, I will assure that those files are shared amongst the family in a long-term private digital photo sharing website. I will then use those scans to create a custom album that will be produced and given to all family members. WHEW! I am sure I will not finish the project in the one week I am here visiting my aunt and her original copies of the album. But, at least we are steps closer in the project and I will now sleep a bit easier knowing that there are safe, digital scans of these fabulous photos which are already backed up in multiple places both physically and in the cloud.
I will continue to share pieces of the process as I work through this photo venture.