There can’t be many people who don’t have photograph albums, surely?
We have loads; about fifteen plus mum and dad’s six albums. We also have packets and packets of family photographs – all dated – that somehow never did get put into albums; probably because the cost of the albums was prohibitive and the storage options limited.
The moment that photography went digital, we went to the other extreme. We had very few prints around the place and the entire digital collection lived and still remains on various computers and hard drives.
I can’t knock digital photography. I love it generally and specifically I love it for flexibility it gives you to edit your own snaps. The one big drawback is that with digital photography, you don’t have The Tin.
We didn’t appreciate The Tin for years. We used to look through the albums and re-visit the photos that we liked, the family snaps of everyone looking happy and the dog looking clean and smiling and the nice bits of scenery and architecture.
Then, one day, son no 2 said “Woss this?” and pulled The Tin from its hiding place under my desk. It was quite dusty and totally forgotten. I told him it was nothing much – just the rubbish photos that never made the albums.
The Tin contained discards – those snaps where someone’s face was blurry, where no-one was posing properly, where a dog rushed into shot and surprised nan so that she looked startled, as though a small rodent had shot up her skirt.
“What’s this?” he asked.
It was a snap of the underside of a small boy’s shorts and his father’s upside down face between the legs.
“Those are your shorts at the moment when you’d just grabbed dad’s expensive SLR camera,” I told him.
“He was just shouting at you to “Put the camera down!” and you took the photo by accident. We were up a mountain in the Lake District at the time and dad was terrified you’d wreck the camera.”
That triggered a flood of interest and soon we were all pouring over the contents of the tin, laughing at the terrible hair (me) the big shirt collars (Capt Sensible) and the brilliant shot of my dad, sitting very upright and proper in the undersized carriage of a model railway on his own, looking straight ahead with an intensely miserable expression while my brother and I sat in the carriage in front gurning happily at the camera.
“What’s up with grampa?”
“Oh he was in a bit of a strop.”
In fact he’d just given my brother a huge ear-bashing for messing about and leaping from carriage to carriage. The snap is an eloquent portrait of childhood enthusiasm and fun contrasted with the black cloud of adult fury.
Then there was the picture of my brother, aged 15, during Christmas, in dramatically camp post, head back against the sofa, eyes closed, wearing red plastic lips from a Christmas cracker and looking for all the world like Freddie Mercury.
And the one of nan dozing in her housecoat on the sofa after a sherry or two while the corgi snoozed alongside her, showing his lipstick.
I can’t reproduce any of these pics because The Tin is now in The Attic and they are sort of private. But I have discovered a collection which is almost a digital version of The Tin.
There’s a nice little android phone app called Whatsapp, which enables you to send text, photos and vid to friends all over the world at little or no cost. So I have taken a few pics and sent them to various people or simply recorded moments for posterity. It was only when I was looking for one particular image the other day that I realised what a bizarre selection I’d accumulated.
They will mean nothing to you. They are random pics but they represent a kind of eccentric diary and hey, after all this talk of photographs, this blog is sorely in need of some images, so here they are.