Film Archive

I mentioned the other day that I just got a slide scanner. The idea was to archive slides and old negatives and store them in digital format.  I have a number of 35mm slides from childhood family vacations and birthdays. But the overwhelming bulk of my image collection is my own doing. Thus far I have scanned about 30 rolls of film (about 1000 images) with another 10 or 15 rolls to go. And that’s just 1989!

It wouldn’t be so bad if my images gave me a warm and fuzzy nostalgic feeling, but for the most part, they don’t. I look at my images in awe (as in awful) and wonder what I could have been thinking at the time. Every couple of rolls yields a passable image or two that I remember fondly and that I wouldn’t mind showing. Another verification of Sturgeon’s Law that states: 90% of everything is crap.

I do remember one of my ambitions, which was to create images of family members that my relatives would cherish, and I have succeeded modestly. But, looking at the bulk of my ‘work’, I can’t imagine who would be interested in them. There are images of couples now divorced, relatives who I used to see only once a year, people only my mother (who died in February) would know, and people with whom I was once acquainted.

Another ambition was to take street photographs like some of the photographers I admired. I remember one time, my uncle who worked in a flower shop told me [probably about my later photographs], “Your photographs remind me of Gene Smith’s.”  I was stunned. My uncle was not normally too talkative and I had no idea that he knew Eugene Smith‘s work. I asked him how he knew Smith’s photography. He told me that he used to come into his flower shop all the time; his studio was across the street.  I was pleased that I might be heading in the right direction with my photography after all.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Today I wanted to visually portray my thoughts and feelings unleashed by the process of archiving my photography. Images of rows of file-cabinet files came to mind, but this evolved into overlapping reels of film, fluttering off into the distance. A time line and clock images seemed to be appropriate as well. Finally, the heart beat at the bottom of the page was a good overall summary of life and how, as one ages, one slows down.

The color scheme was easy to come up with. Old photographs are typically portrayed with sepia tone, while color represents the here-and-now.  I painted the left-most clock with gold gouache, since most people look at ‘the good old days’ fondly, as if they were golden times. While the colors behind the iconic film image changes from sepia to color (left to right), the clocks change from gold to sepia, as if time in the past is worth more than the present.

Finally, I colored a couple of the frames in the unfurling film, red. This indicated the smattering of successful images amid the rest of the frames.

Here is my image:

Watercolor: Abstract Expressionist Nostalgia

Old Snaps
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


4 thoughts on “Film Archive

  1. I love going through old photos. For the most part, I wish I had more of them. I made a book for my parents’ 50th anniversary two years ago (today is their 52nd anniversary, in fact), and it was quite fun to look through the pictures, scan them in, try to crop and edit them and fit them on pages. My father has become a wildlife and nature photographer in retirement and you can see the beginnings of that interest in the old albums of photos he took of us as kids. I think that’s a wonderful goal, to create images for family to cherish!


    • It must have been fun making those albums. Glad you father gets such enjoyment out of photography. I have a love-hate relationship with my own photography. The myriads of photos I took while I was learning are a bit painful to look at in terms of their ineptness. However, later I was able to capture my older brother (autistic, low functioning, non-verbal) in ways that helped me understand my relationship with him. I was fortunate to have a photography show with those pictures. I suppose the growing pains of learning photography are worth it.
      Thank you for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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