Sometimes Photos Are All You Have Left

Sometimes Photos Are All You Have Left

Recently on our History Creators FB page I shared this photo.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people related to our post  and shared their own stories of family members they have lost, and the shared experience of relying on photos to be a reminder of better times.


My reason for posting was personal. I have lost many family and friends over the years, and while the memories I carry with me can bring me joy, it also brings me a sense of peace to relive them by looking at a special photo or watching an old family film. 


As the new year begins, I encourage you to take some time to think about the photos, tapes, and reels that are gathering dust in your basement. It’s easy to put off digitizing your collection, because the idea of going through boxes and albums and so forth can be overwhelming. 


However, preserving these collections can make a great gift not only for you, but for your children and future generations. In many ways saving your collection is priceless, allowing these moments to continue to be a piece of living history. With a few clicks you can share your photos with family and friends around the world, allowing your entire family to have their own slice of of family history. 


Recently I have started the process of digitizing my own family’s collection. I have a long way to go, especially with photos, but I have started to make some progress when it comes to film. 


Below are a few stills I was able to pull from some old 8mm film that had been accidentally stored in my uncle’s garage and thought to be beyond repair. 


With a little elbow grease and patience not only were we able to preserve the film (42, 8mm reels) but I was also able to pause the film on my computer and save photos from the reels of my grandparents who I have not seen in decades. I shared these reels with my mom’s side of the family and they were able to watch on their phone or tv just by clicking a link, or popping in a  flash drive. 


My grandma (puppy photo) hated her picture being taken, and as a result I have very few of them. When she was alive, she often cut herself out of pictures or made sure she threw her hands up so you could not capture her face. Therefore, after she passed it left me with next to no pictures of her in my personal collection.


Being able to have these videos and then sneakily save these screenshots have meant the world to me and my family. I’m sure she would be upset that I am posting her photo all over the internet right now…but I am so happy that I am able to have a few more photos of her, because just like the quote in the beginning of this post states,  photos are all I have left. 

Michele Anderson is currently a Photo Specialist and Social Media Coordinator with History Creators. Michele enjoys interacting with clients and finding ways to preserve their family history. She has worked on large-scale projects for local families and institutions, and her work has even been featured in a recent documentary! Read her full bio here.