Sunday, 19 October 2014

Digitising Family Albums

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Anna Karenina 

I have started an impossible and arduous project - digitising our family albums. I have been obsessed with it for some time and, felt I must immediately convert all our film photography into digital copies lest they become destroyed in a freak accident and be lost to posterity for ever. It was quite an urgent task in my mind but since I am the queen of procrastination, I did not start it until the end of September. 

We have 15 albums that contain images of our family life, vacations and my parents' younger pictures from before they were married. There are a couple of albums that only have photographs of official events like a national day reception or my father presenting his credentials to a head of state.

I also have 2 separate albums of my years at QMW as an undergraduate student (1998-2001) as well as some work photos of my field trips to Afghanistan when I worked with UNJLC (2002-2003). 

I digitised my Afghanistan album and, it took so long and was so boring that I wanted to give up the rest of the project. 

Most of these albums are blank sticky pages where photographs were pasted and then covered with a clear cover. Peeling off that cover, carefully taking off the photographs, scanning them individually and then sticking them back on is a very meticulous job. There are about four photos in one page. Even though I tried to work fast and in an organised manner, it took me a week to get through one album. 

But despite how meticulous the job is, it is incredibly rewarding.

There is something so beautiful about film photography and, seeing it fine detail, scanned, on your computer screen allows  you to really look at it quite close and appreciate it all the more. 

My father took most of the photographs and did such a wonderful job of capturing our childhoods.

 The pictures where we are posing are so natural and intimate. For some, he went to great lengths to dress up our little sister in elaborate head gear.

As I pore over the photographs, I wonder what we were thinking and how happy we were. 

One of the reasons I was too lazy to start on this project was that there no quiet, cool space to do it in the sweltering heat during the summer months. The dining room was a good bet with plenty of table space but the AC in that room doesn't work. Even though the ground level of the house, where the dining room is, is not as hot as the top floor where my room is, it was too humid and uncomfortable to do something like a Digitising Family Albums project.

Now, I'm in Kavita's room - store room - spare room where I have a desk and can slowly but steadily work on this project. I can also listen to my music without the roar of the ceiling fan.

Now, summer has given way to autumn, and the air is cool and crips. We are sleeping under the 'razai' at night. It seems it is the perfect weather to indulge this bitter sweet work. 

As I look at happy memories, my heart is warmed on this rather lonesome Sunday evening.

We are always going to be missing an older technology or style, it seems, as time marches on: black and white photographs, black and white films, Haseena Moin TV Dramas, postcards and letters in envelopes and tring tring telephones.

Does anyone feel as old as I do today?

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