Aly’s Angle: Although inconvenient, a printed photo is priceless
by Aly Simons
I inherited a box of old photos from my nana. I was lucky enough to find handfuls of photos complete with 1950s bathing suits and Southern California palm trees. You know, the sort of classic women and men you might see in a “history of surfing” documentary outlining the culture of beach life in the ’50s and ’60s. I love these photos of my gorgeous nana in a modest bathing suit, cigarette in her hand, lying poolside.
Some of these hardcopy photos have made it to frames on my walls. They have to be displayed because they tell such a story. Luckily my nana, just like me, felt a need to document in detail the moments in her life. So on the back of most of these photos is the date and a little description of scenario on the front.
When I open the box of photos, my mind wanders, and I wonder: Who are the people within the photos? Are they old summer “flings”? What where they doing that day around the pool under the hot sun? What were they talking about? I wish I knew more.
When I go into antique stores, I love the boxes filled with old photos and postcards. Eagerly, I flip the photo over and find the private message written on the back. Sometimes they are intimate messages. Other times I am surprised by the humor. I love knowing that history isn’t as formal or proper as Hollywood movies make it appear. These photo letters offer a written and visual story.
This week’s #bebetter Photo Letter challenge allows all of us to take part in this record-keeping activity. There are definitely more convenient ways to document your photos (such as Facebook or Instagram), but I seriously question the longevity of these methods. If I fail to print out photos, what will be passed down to my children and grandchildren? Although inconvenient, a printed photo is priceless.
This week the #bebetter52 challenge inspired me to write letters on the back of some of my favorite photos. Coincidentally, I had a lot of photos to choose from because my mom recently drove from Oregon to my California doorstep with three huge boxes of old photos she had tucked away in the attic. With a garage remodel and prep for a baby nursery, I had motivation to empty the boxes and sort through stuff I wanted to keep, throw out or give away. During the process, I collected about 10 special photos that will shortly be in the mail to 10 special people.
The power of a handwritten letter is one thing; pairing it with the captured image on a photo multiplies the effect. I am excited about continuing to pint out photos I take – not all of them, just the best ones. The photos I would frame, the ones my daughter might frame. My new favorite website is Artifact Uprising because the people behind it produce beautiful and creative photo prints and because of the company’s mission statement, which is “inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible.” Check out Artifact Uprising’s photo postcards.
Have fun this week and Be Better with the Photo Letter challenge. Not only am I excited about sending a little gift to close friends and family, this challenge allowed me to reflect on all the special memories I have created thus far in my life. And, of course, there’s the additional incentive that money is donated to Not For Sale because of my completed challenge.