As my collection began to expand I envisioned a website to display, or portray, the various characters in my imaginary family instead of a photo album. Yet, as I began to scan and categorize the photos in my collection, I realized that my original idea was not as important as the collection itself. I had amassed a serious and rather impressive collection of old, vintage photos that had a story and character that was unique it itself.
I think that while most people have dreamt of lives they might have lived been if only they had grown up among family members who were more attractive, interesting, wealthy, creative, or perhaps just people of more traditional values and tastes, and that their lives would have turned out just as they always dreamed they should have. This idea of creating for myself what my "imaginary family" might look like was why I began collecting old, vintage photos, as well as why I my collection of old photos is based strictly around images of people who might be said to portray stereotypical characteristics of past generations.
After analyzing the photos in my collection, I began to realize the importance of photos of people.
While I began to collect photographic images of people because they had the affect of creating a sense of the past, intermingled with the images of the characters in the photos, I began to realize that photography is about creating memories and that the best memories are of people in our lives. Through my own process of introspection I realized that the best memories in life are not centered around things such as art, cars, architecture, monuments, animals or panoramic vistas but instead of the people who enrich our lives.
In building my website, I began to categorize my collection of old photos into specific time periods. In order to allow greater enjoyment of my collection of old photos by viewers, I began to organize my collection of old photos based on the apparent time periods during which they seemed to have been created. While organizing my collection of old photos, I began to realize that in showing the viewer of my website photos classified into various era of the past, that I was creating for the viewer a sense of zeitgeist. By displaying a collection of old photograhic images catagorized into several era, each spanning several decades, I began to realize how easy it is to create a sense of zeitgeist, how important it is to have an understanding of the past, and how modern society views the past in terms of sterotypes.
To create this website, I had to anayze and catagorize each photo based on my own judgement. I examined the hair and clothing styles, the architecture and technology, as well as the behaviors of the people in each photo in order to classify them by the time periods that I felt they were created in. I eventually found that the most difficult part creating this website was not in the collecting or even the laorious process of the scanning or even "cleaning-up" the digital images but was the process of idintifying and classifying the subject matter in the photos. Through the process of classifying my photograph collection into several era based on their characteristics I have to say that I learned more about the styles of clothing, the types of technology, the architecture and the behaviors of people of those past era than I even imagined.
I have stated in the intro of this website, that find that old, vintage photos are more than amusing images of people posing for their family and friends on trips, at parties, or during other events during the ir lives, but are more correctly seen as artifacts. Photogreaphic images of people that no longer exist and that are taken out of context so that they are no longer personal momentos can still impart a sense of zeitgiest as well as offer a enducational experience for the viewer by representing way that people past era lived, dressed and behaved.
Now, more than ever, I appreciate my own family's photo collections. After returning to and re-examining my own family's photo collecitons I know realize the importance of having photographs of people. While itmoght seem that there are always aspects of our modern lives that we wished would change more quickly or chnage more slowly, that photographs are important to have not only as mnemonic devices but to remind us of how much we have to thank those people in our lives who have helped to shape our characters and attitudes.