A cousin who lives overseas recently sent me some photos that she had unearthed from her mother’s (my father’s sister) collection.
Some people in the photos were instantly recognisable. That must be dad. That must be dad and his siblings. That must be nan when she was young. Look at her gloves – what the groover she was.
My father died when I was a teen. He left us years earlier. I don’t have much to do with his side of the family for multiple reasons. Even if I did, there are not many people who would know who the people in the photos are. My aunt is 80 and has Alzheimer’s. There’s only one other sibling still alive. She is significantly younger and may not know the people either.
Then I helped my mother with a couple of entries on her blog. We uploaded some photos. Again of people I didn’t know.
All this got me thinking. What is the point of family photos?
Are they just for those who take them, and their immediate family, to recollect or celebrate events in their lives? To act as decorations around the house?
Are they records for family history?
Are they for future historical and cultural references?
Should we keep old photos? Should we bother keeping all our own photos? What now that we take thousands on our phones? Should we treat photos as ephemeral?
Is it better to have one photo with a record of who is in it and where it was taken and other contextual information than thousands of unknown people and places?
Now that I know who some of the people are in my mother’s photos, the photos mean more to me. But will my offspring care?