Monday, August 03, 2015

negatives into positives

At the weekend we got rid of a chest of drawers from my room, and I collected the three remaining boxes from the shed at Pukepoto. This does not mean all my stuff is now here, not by a long chalk. There's a blanket box crammed full of goodness knows what (although I'm hoping I know what some if it is, as if it isn't in there I've lost it!), there's also my cabinet and captain's chair, not to mention three bookcases full of books! But getting those last three boxes here feels like a fairly major landmark.

It's just as well I haven't got the cabinet here yet as I'm using the extra floor space to help sort things out. I did an initial sort through on Sunday, taking out some boxes of stuff here too and resorting it so like is now with like. In the middle of all this I joined in with MM via skype whilst surrounded by piles of stuff, hopefully no-one was looking too closely at the state of my room! I did manage to hide most of what was immediately next to me as I was handsewing the binding on a quilt and it handily covered it over.

So now I have a box of letters, a box of diaries/journals along with artwork and school work, plus a box of the soft toys mostly made by my Aunty Lilian that I still can't quite bear to part with plus a few other childhood treasures, now all shoved under the bed. They'll get revisited some day, but today is not that day...

What this day has been about is photographs. Or to be more precise negatives, plus a box of slides. Once upon a time, many years ago, in a fit of organisation I bought a folder and a few packs of pages to hold negatives, plus some to hold slides. I did manage to make a decent start on the negatives, but as I was doing the job properly and filling in the index pages with a description of every single frame I'd unsurprisingly shelved that task to be completed 'later'. About 15yrs later as it happens! One huge advantage I have now over then is that I no longer take film photographs so the task has a very definite end point to it at some stage, much less daunting than trying to embark on the task at the height of my film usage!

So now I have my slides all archived - I'd forgotten I'd even taken some of them as slides, I'd only remembered about my QYP '87 set. Turns out I have some of East Lothian, Glen Esk, St Andrews and a christening too! I've made a start on the negatives, but once I'm through the ones already sorted into some semblance of order it could be a slow process. But given how many boxes I have full of negatives I'm determined to make some serious inroads on the task so it all takes up less space.

It's amazing really just how many of the pictures I can recognize from a quick glimpse at a strip of negatives held up to the window. They hold a lot of memories. Revisiting them in this way is an interesting process; there isn't time to dwell on anything as each memory that comes up is quickly replaced by those associated with the next strip. It is all there: the good, the bad and the ugly... which does make me think how different my digital archive is in that I delete a lot of the blurry photos etc, and tend to thin out the multiple images once I've decided which of the (insert excessive number here) that I took of the same thing that I'm going to keep. But also it is far easier to delete images that don't have good memories attached to them when they aren't physically attached to others you do want to keep! In many cases the prints have long since gone of the 'bad' photos, but they still remain in the negatives. I guess like life you don't have to take those memories out and dwell on them regularly, but they still make up part of your life, and who you are. You can't cut them out!

So far the less than cheerful memories brought back are those that time has healed, as I'm working through the earliest part of my collection (I'm not entirely sure why I started with the year I did 15yrs ago, rather than at the beginning. Maybe the earlier negatives were 'in a box somewhere' at that stage!). It will be interesting to see how other years, times and places feel when I get to them. Useful too in terms of being something of a timeline checklist which fits in with the counselling sessions I go to.

For now the negatives are just getting labelled generally on the sheets they are in, maybe one day I'll get round to completing the detailed catalogue pages, but somehow I doubt I'll ever be that stuck for something to do! When I get bored of this task I'll switch back to photobooks for a while, but hopefully first I'll have at least one less box of negatives to store. And instead of all those boxes filling me with guilt and frustration each time I come across them (you have no idea how long it took me to find the negatives for the missing photos out of one album recently! But having finally found them I still haven't got the reprints done... hey ho), I'll have a wonderfully organised archive, and that has to be good for the soul as well. One day... but that day is not this day either, as now it is most definitely time for bed.

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