On antique photography

Earlier this week, Kerrie sent me a link to a set of old photos from McKennan Park, a local park that serves as the landmark anchor and main appreciation factor for homes in our area. It’s the 100th Anniversary of the park this year, and the photos date back to the early beginnings of the park.

McKennan ParkThey’re old, cracked and sepia toned. They’re lovely, actually. This type of photography is always stirring, the treatment outlasting the images, with even the most awkward looking composition made better by age. They look great because they’ve lasted so long. They’re a visual representation of an abstract thought: history.

These images have weathered everything, both physical and historical. They’ve lasted through dust and The Dust Bowl, through cold and the Cold War. They’re vessels of memories, physical prints of personal achievement.

McKennan ParkOur favorite pictures were those of children swinging. The wooden swing set and period garb are in stark contrast to the post-production digital images we take with our new camera.

And when Kerrie wondered aloud how she thought our swing pictures would look in another hundred years, I got to thinking. Will they age in the same way? Will we ever see anything like these old McKennan pictures ever again?

With the advent of digital photography and sites like Flickr and Photobucket and Shutterfly, more and more people are simply moving their photographs from camera to Web, or at the very least from camera to computer. Fewer people are having their images printed.

Without this, how will pictures age? Without being exposed to the elements, how will we be able to enjoy the treatment of time?

I can add sepia tone to every image I upload. But it’s not the same.

So the question is, are we losing this aspect of photography? Have we eliminated the possibility of age?

Is it actually a good thing?

This was lovingly handwritten on July 11th, 2008