I’ve recently bought a scanner so that I can scan some of the hundreds of 35mm colour transparencies that are languishing in cases. Some of them are mine, others my husband’s and some, in yet unopened yellow Kodak boxes, my late father-in-law’s. We no longer have all the paraphernalia to properly view them; the projector and screen went to the charity shop several years ago.
As I slowly go through them and put the transparencies on the light box, not only am I reliving the moments captured, remembering the wonderful places I’ve been able to visit, but I’m also being inspired. Some of the images of mine that I’m unearthing were taken back in the early to mid-1980s on what I’m guessing was my hand-me-down Praktica with 50mm lens. By today’s digital standards, the quality isn’t that good. Looking at the slide holders, I think many of them were taken on low-grade 35mm colour film, as it was all I could afford. The lens I was using was not the sharpest tack in the box. Putting all that aside, what’s inspired me is that back then I wasn’t just interested in taking ‘holiday snaps’ (although there are quite a few of those), I was thinking about subject and composition. I suspect that I didn’t really understand what I was doing and I certainly hadn’t read any books on composition and subject choice. Despite that I seem to have made some pretty pleasing images. I’m also realising that my love for certain subjects developed early; the coast, boats and detail.
So what have I learnt as a scan back through my past? Photography has clearly been a passion of mine from an early age, (I wish I still had some of the very first images I look in the 1970s with my Instamatic!). I was developing my eye for seeing the potential in a scene or situation, even though I didn’t know much about the rules of composition. With a simple camera and not much cash I really had to think about what I took rather than snapping away.
I’m proud of some of the images that I’m finding. However, to find these gems I’m going through a lot of work that I wouldn’t even consider making now. I wonder how I’ll feel about the images I’m making today, if I carry out the same exercise in 30 years time?
I’d love to hear about your photography history and if looking back through your old images brings you inspiration. Why not leave a comment below and start the conversation?