I know that is way too early to start talking about Christmas. After all we just passed the mid-point of October and we still have over a week to go before Halloween’s arrival. Yet, every store is decorated with red and green and a few of my monthly magazines have dedicated articles to Christmas budgeting. Although it’s only October I’m in a strange Christmas mood.
When my grandfather was alive he shot thousands and thousands of photographs on 35mm slides. A few years ago I scanned well over two thousand images and presented them in a digital picture frame to my grandmother. Every time I see her she tells me that the picture frame is the best gift she’s ever received. In fact that frame has run continuously since the first night my husband and I presented it to her.
Scanning my grandfather’s slides seems like the task that will never end. Although I have thousands of slides in my possession I know for a fact that my grandmother still has twice any many still boxed up in storage. The last time around I sat in front of the scanner every morning and evening for weeks on end.
During the initial days of scanning I cried quite a bit. There is a deep sense of pride in bringing my grandfather’s photographs back to life. His images capture the moments that we so often forget. Of course there are those big moments like baby showers and first birthdays but also simple moments in time that capture my brother and I playing with toys, building sand castles at the beach and sledding down the big hill in our backyard. My grandfather would be absolutely elated to see his legacy being pulled out of boxes in storage.
Before I took on this task my grandfather’s slides hadn’t seen the light of day since long before he passed away, but as soon as I saw the first image on screen I remembered sitting in my grandparent’s dining room, watching the images light up from my grandfather’s old slide projector. As a young child I remember feeling bored and agitated as my grandfather showed us image after image. Of course, now I wish my grandfather was alive to explain how he captured the light and to see his excitement grow with each click of the projector.
It will take months for me to digitize each slide, but my grandmother turned 87 this month and if I don’t scan the images now she may never get to see them. I have a lot of work to do between now and Christmas, but the work is well worth the reward. By bringing these photos back to life my grandmother gets to relive some of the happiest moments of her life and more importantly to feel close to her husband, my grandfather, the man behind the camera.