Monday, 22 March 2010

Timelessness (Part One)

As well as tracing part of our family tree, my Dad has been tirelessly scanning and cataloguing our old family photos. It's a great idea, and means that even if these old snaps fade or become lost, there is now an electronic record of them for us all to share.

The photographs are not just inside the pages of those old self-adhesive style albums (the kind you can date just by glancing at the pattern on the cover!), but they spill over into wooden boxes and old biscuit tins. They are not just the product of my parents' collecting, but also of their parents, and their parents, and even their parents and beyond. They are a potent and evocative record of changing faces and lost faces; of places that have remained the same for years and of places that have altered beyond all recognition. They are frozen moments in time, but to me, they are still full of meaning.

There are some photos that age badly, not gracefully. These usually display a litany of fashion disasters, missing milk teeth and bad haircuts. These are the ones we all snigger at and these are usually the biggest talking points when the photos are passed around: the psychadelic dungarees, the pointy collars, the wonky fringes...the big shoulder pads and even bigger back combing ...the forced expressions only a school photographer can achieve.

However, there are some photos that manage to be both of their time, and yet transcend it, too. These are the magical ones. The ones that make you suck in your breath, smile and say, "Ooooh." Just exactly why is as impossible as catching smoke in your hands. They just are. Purely and simply put, they have it.

One of my favourite such photos is this one of my Mum (right), our cousin and an obliging Fiat 127, taken in 1979. I've been trying to decide just what it is that makes this picture so special for me, but as I said, it's so difficult to define. I love the faded colours and I love their clothes. I think their sunglasses are very chic and their haircuts very stylish. I love the fact they are posing on top of a Fiat bonnet and the fact that I know that expression on Mum's face so well because I do it, too. But there is so much more to it than that, and all of my words are falling flat.

This picture, to me, is timeless.


  1. Hi Laura - I have pictures just like these of my parents when they were young (and there are a few on my blog). Aren't they just wonderful? I can spend hours poring over them. And the way that the photographs age gives them such beautiful colour.

    And you write really well - your words don't fall flat at all!

  2. Hey Karen...they are, I agree! I will have to check them out on your blog, too. The colours are lovely: faded but golden.

    And thanks for the writing compliment! I really appreciate it :)