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Tag: street photography

What Should You Do with your Parents’ Old Photo Albums?

Now that both of my parents are gone, I’m left with all of their photo albums. And I’m faced with the complicated question of what to do with all of the pictures, like this cool photo of my father from the 1950s. Here’s one perspective…

My mother documented my youth in three large photo albums that were eventually forgotten in a hallway closet after she passed away in 2006. But not entirely. I knew they were there. For different reasons, I’ve borrowed a few of the photos and digitized them, but the vast majority still lived in analog form in that closet.

Sure, I could have easily taken the albums and started a digital conversion project at any point in the past decade, but I always had my existing family photo management work to do, which I was seemingly always behind on. And so this archival project never began.

These albums stayed buried in that same apartment where I grew up and my father still lived.

And then he passed away.

Remembering the Good Times
So, I’ve finally taken possession of these albums. (They’re one of the first things I moved out of my dad’s place.)

And now I’ve begun the slow process of digital conversion for some of these photos. I’ve quickly realized I don’t need all of them. Just enough to tell the story… the story of my family’s lives during those decades.

What I’ve uncovered mostly aligns with my memories, but it’s amazing what you forget or what you were too young to ever remember. It’s good that the photos are there to tell the story.

It’s comforting. Really comforting.

Reviewing Someone Else’s Memories
But there are other photo albums too that lived in my father’s apartment. These were his albums. And they lived separately from the core group. I knew they also existed, and I had seen them across the years, but they were much less familiar to me.

Some contained pictures of my grandfather and grandmother. Then, there were photos from my father’s youth. Others displayed people I didn’t know. There was also a treasure trove of photos from my dad’s travels to distant lands. He was very much a world traveler.
Here are a couple of his pictures from his trip to Egypt.

Then, there are boxes and boxes of his slides from the 1970s. (Remember when that was in vogue?) I’m not exactly sure what those contain… not yet.

I will need to go through all of my father’s photography. He’d talked to me about some of it across the years, but now I guess it’s left to me to figure out how to integrate it into the larger family ‘story’ that will get carried forward.

I think about his legacy. I think about how it is now left to me to carry forward my father’s story. I realize I’m more than a family archivist. I’m suddenly a historian.

It’s a daunting process. And yes, I am overwhelmed. How could I not be?

Keeping the Project Manageable
The good news is I’m not starting entirely from scratch. My father was a great storyteller. And I’ve videotaped many of his stories. And I have digitized some of his photos across the years.

I have to remind myself that this should not be an exercise in quantity. I don’t have to digitize every photo! Instead it’s about finding just what you need to properly represent the story and put any remaining pieces of the puzzle together.

This should support my healing… not make things worse.

Finding a Way Forward
I know this is going to take time (months? years?). So, I’m trying to keep all of these albums and photos properly organized in boxes and bins in our home.

Organization is key.

Is it possible they’ll simply live in the back of another closet until the next generation finds them? Let’s hope not.

Their future state deserves to live in digital form and integrated into my larger family archive collection.

Wish me luck…

How to Improve your Street Photography by Ignoring the Details

Usually there’s not enough time to focus on setup when capturing a photographic moment. So don’t. Here’s what to do instead.

When you walk about in the city, do you sometimes see moments that would make for a perfect photo, if only you had a camera in your hand? Yes, me too. In fact… all of the time.

Sure, my iPhone is always right there in my pocket as I move throughout New York City, and I often grab for it to capture a fleeting image right in front of me. It’s all about how fast you can get off a couple shots before the scene shifts and the opportunity evaporates. I can’t tell you how many photos I’ve missed over the years that were taken just a few seconds too late.

Use a Camera Strap to Speed Up your Response
Wearing your camera around your neck can trim away critical seconds, as you don’t have pull out your camera.

I recently bought a strap made by Peak Design (Slide Lite) for my Panasonic Lumix LX10. I got it for my family’s trip to Grand Canyon and the famous mule ride we took along the rim.

The strap was originally a one-use purchase. Why would I ever want to ruin the small form factor of my compact camera by attaching a bulky strap to it? But then I tried an experiment and wore the camera during one of my trips into New York City. And I quickly realized that strap was my ticket to better street photography.

Be Ready for the Photo
Discarding the concern that I would look like a tourist, I’ve now worn my camera several times walking uptown from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan to visit my father. And let me tell you, having my camera right there near my hand is a game changer.

If you wonder why you may see any number of people walking about the city with cameras in their hands or about their necks, I think they’re all waiting for the next photo to appear. And they intend to be ready!

Point and Press
In my ongoing exploration of street photography, I’ve also been trying out an alternate shooting strategy. It’s simply to proactively point my camera at a potential scene as I walk by. Before I actually see anything worth capturing, I press the shutter a few times, move on and hope for the best. It’s all about playing the odds that the camera captured an image I didn’t have time to spot and process.

It’s about meeting a moment and reviewing it later to see if there’s actually any visual interest in it.

Happily, this technique has yielded unexpected success.

Photo Finish at the Track
My father likes to tell a story from the 1970’s when he practiced his own amateur photography with his old SLR camera. He was at Yonkers Raceway and had a seat up close near the finish line. As the horses crossed by in a flash, he simply squeezed his shutter button to burst through his 36-photo film roll.

Later, when he picked up his developed pictures from the photo store, he quickly sifted through the group. He saw a bunch of useless mushy blurs… all except for the last photo. It was perfect. It was like a shot you’d see on the sports page of the New York Post.
My father met the moment, pointed in the right direction, and his camera did the rest.

Your Speed Factor
Whether you see a moment or anticipate one, snapping your photo as quickly as possible is the key factor to better street photography. Plus, it really doesn’t matter what you see. It’s what your camera captures.

So, you might want to ignore more of the details and focus most of your attention on getting your camera going and its general position. Keep it simple. There’s often not more time for much else. You probably won’t know if you got ‘the shot’ until you review it later.

I’m still very much a student of this art form. That said, here are a few examples from my recent walks in Manhattan.

My Street Photography from New Orleans

While taking photos in the French Quarter, I saw people casually living their lives in an comfortably public way. It added to overall fabric of the environment.

During my vacations, I always enjoy the opportunity to spot and photograph interesting imagery while walking about. As you might imagine, New Orleans is a great place to practice street photography.

My family and I recently returned from a fun New Orleans vacation, and we packed in many kid-friendly activities across our five days. Speaking of packing, I’m happy to report that I successfully organized and stashed my camera gear and tripod under the airplane seat in front of me. Here’s how I accomplished that little feat.

While walking around the streets of the French Quarter, I used my Panasonic Lumix GH5 II as much as possible, but my trusty iPhone was also in my pocket to quickly capture a fleeting moment that my bigger Lumix wasn’t ready for.

Here’s some of what I saw.

I found that waiting on line outside of the famous Preservation Hall gave me valuable time to spot these moments.

Of course, Jackson Square is a hub of activity. And it didn’t hurt that we visited during the French Quarter Festival.

We were also in New Orleans during Fleet Week. So we saw sailors about the city.

The festive nature of New Orleans was everywhere.

Even the more mundane day-to-day moments had a nice energy.

We also passed by more sobering realities.

Just like any city, New Orleans offered a wide spectrum of images. Many were festive. Some were sad. Others I could barely look at, let alone take a picture. That was my experience as a tourist walking about without a specific agenda.

Yes, we packed our family vacation with a variety of planned activities. But as we also did plenty of walking from one destination to the next, I really enjoyed that extra time to look about with a photographer’s eye.

Thank you, New Orleans!

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