It’s an oft-repeated phrase, but if it really is true what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words then an old photograph must surely be worth a thousand memories.
In much the same way that new cars just don’t have the nostalgic character of the old ones, old snapshots have a warmth and depth to them that modern digital cameras and editing software just can’t truly recreate. Faded, strange colour casts, slightly blurred – each one captures a moment that must have been of significance to the photographer at the time in a unique way. Photographic film and processing cost a lot more money back then than a digital snap does now, and you couldn’t just immediately delete the ones that didn’t come out how you intended before sending them away to be processed, so you had to be careful to make each shot count.
I have a huge passion for old photographs. As a retro car enthusiast the interest for me isn’t always in the main subject matter but often in the background. The cars lining the streets, the traffic queue, the busy car park – they all hold fascination for me as a record of what people were driving in that place at that time. I wonder, am I the only person today that deliberately takes pictures of the car park when I stop at motorway services, or of the traffic when I get stuck in a queue on the motorway, in the hope that someone in the future looking back at our time now will find them just as interesting as I find similar photos from twenty, thirty, forty years ago?
A new car in a family can still be a major event, but in the past the car represented personal freedom and family affluence more so than maybe it does now. A proud family gathered around a new car in the driveway is a frequent old photo subject. It’s the same with family holidays, cheap package flights have replaced the magic of a cross continent drive on unfamiliar Autoroutes and Autobahns – so many old photos represent a “Look! We made it this far!” moment.
Now that we are living in the social networking era it’s easier than ever to find the exact sort of thing I love online. Flickr, for example, is a rich hunting ground and if I’ve got nothing better to do I can easily lose hours trawling through the memories and moments of people from all over the world.
I’ve been collecting together the ones that stand out over on Tumblr, it’s perfect for bookmarking and keeping track of this sort of thing. I’ve been running it for quite a while but it’s only now that I think there’s enough on there to keep someone interested for a decent length of time.
If you like the pictures that I have peppered throughout this post then definitely have a look. I update it whenever I find anything so check back regularly for more!