With the advent of instant photography through digital technology we can take many photos and leave them on our devices. We might not even look at them again. This could lead us to an ironic situation of being better equipped than ever to take photographs but the risks of not using them, not appreciating their worth.
Recently I spent time looking through old photos to choose some for a collection to celebrate a special birthday. The photos told stories that might have been forgotten otherwise. Each revealed something about the people in them. Using them as a prompt for conversation elicited more and more information, memories of the time itself, as well as reflections on the time since.
Part of the thrill was finding the few photos - one or two of each occasion unlike the many photos we take now. There was often a seriousness about the photos as if the people being photographed knew this was an opportunity - to show their best self, to make the most of the moment.
Sorting through the photos and theming them was also a challenge. Should it be chronological? Should it be themed around topics? All this led to discussions and choices being made. Chronology seemed to be preferred but sometimes it was difficult to remember the dates so guesses were deemed to be okay.
The photo quality varied. Some photos needed to stay small because unlike today's photos they weren't able to be enlarged without losing their clarity. Some editing helped and for some photos we found details of people or things that had been lost through the quality and ageing process of the photo. As if by magic faces appeared, some known, some unknown.
Taking the time to seek out old photos, restore them and use digital technology to keep them for the future can become an opportunity to relive and cherish the past, to ensure memories live on and learning continues drawing on past experiences.