1 EAGLETON NOTES: Photos and Things

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Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Photos and Things

I once read a comment to the effect that every photo that one takes should be destroyed as soon as the photographer has looked at it and been satisfied with it. I suppose it goes without saying that the ones he or she is not satisfied with are destroyed. I think that the point was that the whole reason for taking a photograph is the satisfaction of creating an image with which one is happy. I think that that overlooks the whole question of photos as records or works of art for others to appreciate.

However having been involved over the years in going through the photographs of family and friends who have died there does seem to be some justification for the first point of view. Uncle Eric, for example, had taken many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of photos of the war in Italy. When he died it fell to CJ and I to go through the boxes of them. Unfortunately they meant nothing to us and probably hadn't been looked at since they were taken. They were records rather than works of art but with no identification and no memories they were meaningless. So they no longer exist.

Dad had spent all his life taking photos but the vast majority meant something only to him and possibly to Mum. Because many were slides they had not been looked at for years. Sorting them was a major task.

I have thousands of images on various media taken over nearly fifty years by me and more from my childhood taken by other family members. I also have photos of the family going back almost as long as photos have been taken. Most of my photos have had few airings since the days when we had family slide shows. Andrew and Gareth have occasionally looked at the family albums of their childhoods. More recently some of my images have been shared through my blogs and web albums. Most, however, languish in boxes and drawers and would, in the ordinary course of events, never see the light of day again.

When I retired in 1995 one of my tasks was to be to sort my photos. When I retired again in January 2005 one of my main tasks was to be to sort my photos. There have always been more 'important' things to do. CJ has been sorting his over the last few years and using some in his blogs. This has made them accessible to the rest of the family and friends. So I have been inspired to make a start on mine. It is at this point that the enormity of the task suddenly emerges. I have spent quite a lot of time this week late at night just sorting and scanning photos from my childhood. I have managed the first couple of pages of my first album. At this rate if I lived until I were to be 100 I would not have finished the task. So I shall have to be more selective and ruthless. We shall see.

In the meantime I leave you with just one picture of me and some friends on my 8th Birthday in the back garden of 68 Renville Road. CJ is the one in front!

Aren't we a happy bunch?

1 comment:

  1. Blimey O'Reilly! Andrew couldn't be anyone else's son, could he?

    And I very much disagree with your comment about Uncle Eric's photos. Just because you have no association with the photograph does not mean it ceases to exist. I think it's fascinating to look at photographs and to try to see the story behind them. For example, apart from recognising Andrew's likeness in your photograph, it speaks volumes about the people, the time, the party and represents a historic record of those times. Silly boy!

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