I'm scanning, I'm saving, I'm emailing the scanned files from OHP's computer (where the scanner is) to mine; I'm cropping, enhancing, and filenaming as descriptively as possible. Then I'm importing the files into Picasa and creating captions, sorting the photos into folders and albums and uploading Web Albums. (At this point they're all Unlisted, which means only people I invite can see them, since they mostly consist of pictures of other people.) I'm even pinpointing locations with the mapping feature -- who knew Beard's Plaisance was on Google Maps?
In the last few days I've done this with about 500 photographs. I haven't even made a significant dent in the albums and boxes of photos we brought with us (nearly all pre-digital). It's going to take quite a while, and my joints are telling me that I need to do a bit more dogwalking and less computer-sitting. But here's what I've learned and what I've thought about while working on this project:
- I wish I had done more labeling earlier - like, when the pictures came back from the developer. Names are not too hard for the most part, but dates and places elude me. It's hard for me to look at one of my children and say "He was 5 there" or "She was 3."
- I wish even more that I had asked my parents and other relatives who are now gone more about the photographs while I had the chance. I have a number of unlabeled photos my father took in Japan and Korea that I'd like to know more about. Finding a group of Korean War vets who served in the same units has been some help, but I wish I would have asked him.
- How well-documented my children are, compared to me and my siblings, and even more so to my mother and her family! And we didn't even have a video camera! Still, I doubt a month went by without a photo being taken from their births till high school graduation, at least. I have about 6 pictures of my mother up till she became a mother (not even a wedding picture!), and as best I know, just one of my grandmother before her marriage -- and that one I'm not positive about. Part of this is due to economic factors and part, perhaps, to a strain of introversion that runs in the family (and which I've inherited). My siblings and I were photographed fairly frequently during early childhood when either my father was overseas or we were all far away from my parents' families. I have almost no photos of myself in high school or college. I really have to thank Onkel Hankie Pants for taking so many, many photos over the years. I took some too, but my skills were very limited at first.
- I have three children and, while they share some traits, they are each quite different people. Most of the pictures I've been working with are post-1980 so they feature my daughters a lot. For each of them there is a word that describes their facial expression in photos taken in early childhood -- before they knew how one is "supposed" to look in a picture. I would describe Sisterknits' expression as INSOUCIANT, and Cordeliaknits' as "SELF-SATISFIED" -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. She just seems to be so pleased with herself and her situation in so many of the pictures -- in a more lively way than just contentment. As I move backward through the photos, it will be interesting to see what I think SonShineIn's expression is. Try this at home! Look at pictures of yourself or your children, if you have them, at a young age -- probably 7 is about the upper limit. What is your expression? (I'd have to say mine was "DEMENTED GLEE." See below, my first grade school photo from Coldwell School, El Paso, Texas. It's a bit subdued because it was a school picture, but that wide grin is in nearly every photo.)
- I was a little surprised that there seem to be more pictures of my kids with their aunt than there are of them with me. I suppose it just seemed that I was around all the time and we didn't think of photographing so many of those moments. Does anyone else have this phenomenon? (By the way, there are probably even fewer of them with their father, since he took so many of the pictures.)
- I love Picasa. It was recommended by a genealogy newsletter some time ago, but I've only really begun using it fully quite recently. It allows you to organize the photos on your computer into albums (the folders are the same as in My Pictures in Windows) and also to provide captions which have no appreciable length restriction nor any restriction on what characters you can use. Then you can make Web Albums, which can be either Public or Unlisted. If Unlisted, only people you invite can see them. And then, the viewers can leave comments -- corrections, additions, memories, whatever. I think Sisterknits may be right when she says, "In two years, everything will be Google."
- Although Picasa has some editing capabilities, I am using Paint Shop Pro. Onkel Hankie Pants has version XI and I have version 8, they both work really well. I learn new things about using them every day, because I seem to learn best by trial and error and saying "I wish it would do this" and then finding out that it does, indeed, do this. The last photos I deal with will be better served than the first, but the important thing is getting them all digitized, labeled, sorted and shared.
- And here at last is the picture I promised. I wouldn't be surprised if my mother made that dress, although I don't remember a lot from that far back.