Becoming A Memory Keeper

So anyone who follows my blog or knows me at all, knows I have a little bit of an obsession with photography, especially old photographs and film. This eccentricity started about 4 years ago when I discovered some old metal Kodak film canisters at an antique store. Inside the canisters were mostly what you would call “amateur snapshots.” Family vacations, graduations, things of that nature. There is one image from that first set that stuck with, I still have a print I made in the darkroom from the negative hanging on my wall.

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It might seem like a strange image to leave such big impact. I have no idea who these people are. They are in no way related to me as far as I know. But the first time I saw this image I wanted to smile. I wanted to know more, I wanted to know these people’s story. I found myself curious about people I would never meet. I like the way that seeing this photo made me feel. I still smile looking at it now. It wasn’t just about a feeling though, it was about curiosity and understanding a different time. The more of the photos I looked at from this set, the more curious I became.

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Not because they were particularly artistic in an obvious way, but because I was interested in their story and how that story is the embodiment of life as art.

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I doubt there was a conscious effort by the photographer of these images to create anything artistic. Most likely they were just living and wanted to capture some memories. That is where my “obsession” came from. This idea of being a “memory keeper.” I feel like I’m drawn to photography because it’s like getting to see a little piece of a secret, or like borrowing a memory from someone.

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These memories are why I do what I do. I like to collect old photographs to learn, to see from other people’s perspectives. That’s why I consider myself a memory keeper. The photographs I have once belonged to someone associated with them, and for whatever reason they ended up discarded by the original owner. So I gather them up and I am inspired to learn about the people, the places and the time period.

This curiosity also what inspires all of my own original photography.  In a digital age where photos are a dime a dozen, I find myself gravitating to learning about and seeing through these physical embodiments of memories. It is a slightly strange concept when you consider the intangible nature of a memory. But I will continue to gather the memories up and continue on in my curiosity. Such is the work of a memory keeper I suppose.

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