Hurricane Sandy and Restoring Our Personal Photographic Archive

December 02, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

There are many ways in which people protect and store their family photograhs.  Some of us are very organized and methodical, others less so.  No matter where you are on the scale, a disaster like Hurricane Sandy gets your attention.  It takes no time at all, and a scrolling inventory is running through your head even if you do not suffer damage.  We think of what might have happened and what we could have lost.  First on the list is the health and safety of the people we love.  Once everyone is safe and accounted for, a damage assessment is next.  Most of us start a list in our heads that contain two catagories, replaceable and irreplaceable. If we've spent time going through the complicated and painful process of getting adequate insurance coverage, then the loss of our replaceable possessions will be minimal, and immediate sense of relief the result.

We humans collect lots of things that define our lifestyle.  Many of these things have great value, and add to our wealth. There are things we own that have very little market value, but are of great personal importance.  Our family photographic archive falls in this catagory.  There is a strong urge we humans harbor to be significant and stake out a sense of place.  Our family tree is one place where this is most visable, and our personal photographic collection is where our ancestors reside. This is where you introduce Great Grandpa and his 1936 Chevy Coupe' to a wide eyed child full of questions.  You gather every once in a while around a table to laugh and cry at photos that somehow still seem magical.  If you could only make these pictures talk! You shuffle through your history taking a trip back in time.  We really are part of a tree, that these paper treasures make real. 

The New York, New Jersey metropolitan area is slowly working its way back from Hurricane Sandy, the most powerful Hurricane in my memory.  As of this writting people are collecting lost photographs that are scattered due to the storm.  Some wash up on whats left of our beaches.  They are attempting to put their lives back together and their snapshot collection is part of the healing.  All of us know the value of these personal treasures.  They are Irreplaceable to whomever owned them.  We regret not taking more steps to keep them safe.  Our lives can be a hyperactive jumble of schedule, appointments, work, and leisure activities.  Its easy not to think about that box of family snapshots on the closet shelf. They were for the most part created on the spur of the moment by people with various levels of camera skills. However, its not the skill of the person who made the photograph that creates its value, its the content within the frame.  If I had to evacuate what would I quickly take with me?  My personal photo archive would be high on the list, right after the family go box. 

It is really important that you begin the process of finding from within your collection the few photographs that will represent your history tree.  You do not need to make this a major project.  It can start with just a small collection.  Some photographs in your collection will have become damaged.  Most damage can be repaired and photos restored.  The most difficult damage to repair is that which exsists on the face of the subject. I can restore a photograph that has faded areas, cracks and folds, missing areas, and print it in a warm antique tone on archival paper.  You could decide on a collection that has more photos but smaller, maybe 5 X 7's, or a wall with a few larger photos.  This project can be stretched out over time and thought of as an ongoing project.  It is less expensive than you think, and more valueable than you can imagine.  Give this type of project some serious thought.  Contact me and we can beging a dialog about your project.


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