Monday, March 3, 2014

“Throw Back Thursdays”

Abrams Family 1960s
            My parents didn’t take many pictures of us, and I suspect their limited budget kept them from snapping away. They had a couple of inexpensive cameras, but film and developing turned out to be a luxury. At one point, my father purchased an instamatic Polaroid that spat out a picture from its slatted mouth. I remember all of us gathering around in anticipation as the brownish square developed into a picture. These photographs didn’t stand the pressures of time, and most never made it to the nondescript brown box on the floor of my mother’s closet. You know the box I mean—the one where all pictures get tossed with the idea that “someday” they will be organized into photo-albums with neatly printed dates and labels. When my parents finally did arrange their few pictures, they couldn’t remember specific dates or names of various friends. They gave up the idea of a chronological order and instead created a binder for each of us kids and a hodge-podge file of their own lives “pre-children”

            I swore to myself that I’d stay on top of my own camerawork, so when David and I purchased a use Pentax K1000, I picked up an album along with the first roll of film. Whenever it looked like we neared the last pages of a folder, I’d buy a new one. Both of us love playing with the camera, and we coupled our picture taking with bike treks. For a couple with limited funds, taking our bikes down a back road and stopping for wildflower photo-opts filled endless weekend hours.

    Eventually, we designated the upper shelves of a closet for these massive volumes of memories. After Paul’s birth, we added more shelves. And although we had computers in our home long before many of our friends and family members because of David’s freelance business, we dragged our feet at converting to digital cameras. Our old trusty Pentax still took lovely pictures, and over the years we’d added lenses and filters. Technology eventually won out, and we bought a small pocket sized Canon that we used until we “inherited” our Canon  Rebel T1i from my son, who switched over to a Nikon D5100. I have to admit, I love grabbing my Rebel and snapping shots of budding Mountain Laurel, the dogs sleeping in bed, or a view from the Irish shore. I can simply plug my camera into my laptop, create folders, and organize to my heart’s content. Sharing my photography takes a simple click or two.
            I decided about five years ago that we needed digital back-ups for all of those thousands of pictures lining the shelves of that lone closet. So I began my scanning project. I started with my parents’ meager collection, figuring I’d keep a disc, give my sister a disc, and give my brother the originals. I managed to accomplish that task and had started on some of my own photographs when my mother’s care needs kicked into overdrive. My ambitious project fell into the background, forgotten.
            Until Throw Back Thursdays! The sharing of old pictures on Facebook nudged me into picking up my old project. At first, I thought I’d organize everything in my computer chronologically, but I soon realized that system would require us to remember which year something had occurred if we wanted a picture of a person or event. I decided to organize by category: Paul’s Firsts, Vacations/Day Trips, Christmas, Abrams Outings, Chapman Gatherings, etc. This method suits us best because we have more than thirty years of photographs to arrange. I’ve also made many executive decisions on which memories we need to scan, since we probably have more than 6, 000 pictures! I finally resolved that “one” of each would provide a good starting point. Completing this project will take time since David’s also taking the time to restore some photos to their original color and vibrancy. In the meantime, we’ll continue to share with our family and friends snippets of our lives together.

Copyright 2014 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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