My personal project of slowly archiving my childhood photographs opened up the gates of memories, experiences, and possibilities.
For the past few years I have been in the process of slowly acquiring and digitally archiving my childhood photographs. Growing up in Asia and finally moving to North America, my parents had to leave numerous amounts of photo albums of their children’s (myself and my sister’s) photographs. Growing up in the late ’80s and ’90s and with a parent working overseas, photographs are a way for my father to see us as we grow up. To say we had lots of photos while we were growing up is an understatement.
Every couple of years or so when a family member flies back to Asia, I always request to bring one or two of our family photo albums here in Canada. Weight restrictions are always a bane since I have to be considerate of my cousins who are doing this as a favor. Last time I asked my aunt from Manila to just remove the photographs and put the photos in a small plastic bag, so that more photos will be brought back, without worrying about baggage weight limits.
Unfortunately, I never got the hang of saving negatives when I was a child so all I have are prints. My mother had a habit of creating collages on adhesive albums so majority of my childhood photos were trimmed and shaped to fit an album page. I am thinking of preserving that style of displaying the photos and order adhesive albums from either eBay or Muji.
One thing that I think we will all agree on is that photographs help preserve (and to some extent, “create”) memories. My sister spent the rest of her childhood here in Canada so photographs are her only source of knowledge of what it used to be back then when she was a grade-schooler. As for me, childhood photos bring back nostalgia, this certain feeling of happiness and longing, and at the same time, regret and contentment. Remembering what things used to be like, or what to use to look like… Something that you cannot bring back but at the same time, the fact that you see photographs now is a testament that you can bring something back, albeit temporal.
I think more than anything, family photos are the best photos you can take in your lifetime. A single photograph brings your family together and allows you to gather memories, share experiences and look forward into the future.