There’s a company that wants our unprocessed forgotten rolls of film called the Lost Rolls America Project. They ask how many photographers and snapshooters have old film lying around and they encourage them to send them in and they will develop it for their project.
This project is aimed at getting those forgotten rolls of film processed so that the photographer can ruminate on what they’re seeing, to time travel back to when the photo was made and describe what was going on in the long-forgotten image, knowing that the element of time has affected its memory. It’s not instant gratification at all but could be a photograph 5, 10, 15, or 20 or more years old.
This is different from the Rescued Film Project, which processes film from people who found them in old cameras and don’t necessarily have any connection to the photographs.
I heard about Lost Rolls on the B&H Podcast, and while they were discussing processing film and reminiscing over the pictures, they commented on how digital photography has changed family memories–no longer are there family albums under the coffee table or on the bookshelf in the living room for children or families to peruse. There just aren’t. Now, because the digital photographer sees the finished photo at the time of exposure, there’s no latency period. There’s no going back to relive the event, the face, the moment. The purpose of photography has changed as a result of the mechanics of how they are made.
It made me nostalgic for the way photography was used by my family, how we made photographs that were made purposefully for traveling back in time to earlier days, to previous trips, to shared experiences. The ability to relive where we were and who we were with. They said on the show that the snapshots that resonated the most with people are family, travel, their childhood and pets.
I was walking through a flea market yesterday and a seller had a digital photo frame for sale–I find that hasn’t been much of a replacement for the family album for most people. I do have some very good friends who have a large 11″x14″ digital frame in an elegant wood trim in their kitchen that they do have going on rotation, and it does work for them (though it used to feature a wireless delivery of images, but that stopped working and now it’s off an SD card) but they’re the only ones I’ve ever seen using one. I bet most people find that a digital photo frame just isn’t worth the trouble, no one wants to program it or watch it, they often are cheap and break and I frequently find them unopened at flea markets and thrift stores.
I’ve had a few calls this past year, perhaps because of the pandemic, to create family photo albums for people. Or help them do it themselves. I’m not even trying to make money doing it–if you want my help figuring how to make a photo album, I’ll show you how to do it yourself. The cost is low and the reward is that family photo album on your bookshelf or under your coffee table. Go to RealPhotoAlbums.com and you can see some info on how to get started.
Because there’s something to this:
Just like the paperback book hasn’t been replaced by the e-reader because people like the tactile feeling of a real book in their hands, the photo album is starting to make somewhat of a comeback, and it’s one I am a proponent of, to save printed photographs of our loved ones and our experiences for generations to come.