My parents created a photograph album when they were about my age now, of their first holiday together. It was an old, green, leather bound book with soiled and torn paper. All the photographs were stuck into the album with bright red photo corners. You could smell the musty age of it, which of course I fell in love with I was young and sat looking through our extensive photograph collection. My family greatly treasures the photo albums with a huge about of sentimentality.
So upon rediscovering this little treasure, I decided the best plan was to take my parents back to the places they visited in Tintagel once more. Taking a new Polaroid in the same spot, 35 years later.
Dad, Tintagel Castle, Then and Now.
It was a frustrating but rewarding exercise, bearing in mind these places have been effected environmentally and generally over time have changed. Although there were some things which hadn’t changed at all, to my Mother and Fathers great surprise. They were over the moon to live out their first holiday together again and re-kindle some of those youthful feelings.
Mum and Dad, Boscastle. Then and Now.
My Mother and Father could not remember any of the photographs being taken, that is why it was so difficult to find the places that they were taken. It was as if the pictures merely symbolised the holiday. They may remember where they stayed, or what they did in the time they spent there, but it all seemed vague to them now. The photo album they made with ‘cherished memories’ now a distant blur.
Mum. Then and Now.
From this experience with my parents I can see how Barthes, Gare and Anwandter all share the same theory that photography, especially personal photography may take the role of ‘preserving’ our memories but in fact, it does quite the opposite. The memories of that small, undefined moment that finger hits the trigger, a photograph is produced that at first is alive with memory and vigour. One could still hear the waves and the warm air and the sounds of seagulls dancing happy on the wind, but after a short space of time these feelings change, one can no longer feel, taste, or hear the photograph. And in essence the photograph dies, along with almost all the memories. Photographs from then on, merely act as cues.