A few years ago, I convinced my mom to give my late grandmother’s box of negatives to me, for a couple of reasons. First, they were just loose in there getting scratched every time the box was moved (which was really only when I visited mom and wanted to dig through them). Second, I wanted to just do some creative projects with them.
As I started to organized them into protective sleeves, I realized there were many images I was unfamiliar with. Had I forgotten ever seeing their positive counterparts, had they never been printed or given away to friends and family long ago? I bought a negative scanner and started digitizing the recognizable images of my grandmother. Then I found a few of my mother and uncles, when they were toddlers and teens.
Looking back on my family in unfamiliar photos gives me a newness of wonder, mainly because they are not the mundane images I’ve seen thousands of times lining hallway walls. They put my family in different scenes which I now view with more mature eyes and better appreciate their past lives.
My grandmother did most of her traveling before I came along. Through these photos, I get to witness her travelogues, and realize that I have more of her qualities than I ever cared to appreciate while I was younger and she was still alive. The ongoing project is to complete digitizing and restoring the photographic life & travels of Betty Lou.