A huge assortment of 35mm slides, strip negatives, 120 colour transparencies as well as prints, magazine articles and books all stored in dusty boxes held together with yellowing tape.
These have been stored, moved and stored again numerous times and contain a whole lifes worth of photographic images.
I didn’t take these photos, nor was I alive when many were made however, these are effectively now my own. The contents belonged to two family members, my father and grandfather, who have both passed away.
Holding them up to the light I can tell that many are personal images. Some were for assignments and others I cannot fathom as to why they were taken. I can recognise elements in the photos but they look different than how my minds eye pictures them - a peculiar mix of closeness and distance that we all experience when looking at old photos of our kin. So far they have revealed family members or locations that I know but they're of a time before I was born.
The next step is to digitalise them to get a much clearer impression of what type of images are hidden amongst the age worn cases. This will take time as each needs to be scanned individually. Then comes trying to decide what to do with them. They have a personal worth in being part of my history and heritage but could it go beyond that?
There is also the issue of presenting these images under my own name. I'm torn between the feelings of guilt over intellectual theft and claiming my inheritance. Is this mischievous appropriation, or a legitimate mining of their potentiality?
Another question that is brought up is whether my father and grandfather could have foreseen what their images would be used for decades after they were created. Not to mention modern technology allowing people all around the world instant access to them. So, of course, it follows that I ask the question; what will happen to my own images when I pass away?
By what means will they reach their full potential and who will they pass onto?
I have always believed that in some regards even the most mundane of photos will be fascinating to people 100 years hence.
These images are not quite that old yet but regardless of age, the responsibility is now my own to carry them forward.