One of my favorite things to do is to explore my family history. I love to listen to my parents and aunts tell stories from their childhood, and I can lose myself studying the family trees my aunt and brother-in-law have pieced together. What I enjoy the most though is looking at old photos and videos. There is something magical about actually seeing (or in the case of film/video seeing and hearing) your family as it used to be. Still, as amazing as these old photos and videos are, I can’t help but fantasize about how much more incredible they’d be if my parents and grandparents had today’s technology at their disposal.
We don’t have any film of my family from my grandparents’ era, and the photos we do have are mostly small, black and white, weathered around the edges, and slightly faded. While these imperfections make the photos charming in their own way (so much so that there’s an Instagram setting that can make your photos look like the one above), they can be maddeningly frustrating when they’re your only glimpse into your family’s past. I look at these photos and wish my relative’s clothes and hair could be in color, that everyone’s eyes could be brighter, and their expressions clearer. Don’t get me wrong, I cherish these photos and feel privileged to have them, but I can’t help dreaming about what they’d look like if they were taken today.
Things improved by the time my parents started to capture our family’s memories. The pictures were better (now in color and able to capture more subtleties), but the best part was that they were able to take film and video! When my brother and I were two my parents borrowed a Super-8 camera from a friend, then filmed our dad surprising us dressed as Santa Claus on Christmas morning. Being two, we lost our minds thinking he was the real Santa Claus. My mom is quick to tell you how cute a movie it is, and she’s right.
Some time in the mid-eighties my parents bought a video camera and used it to document singing recitals, birthday parties, holidays, you name it. Watching these videos is the closest I can come in my life to hopping into a Delorean and going back in time. I just wish that the technological geniuses back then realized that VHS tape would deteriorate so quickly. We’ve transferred most of our videos to DVD now, but not before time did its damage and made them washed out and fuzzy in spots.
Thankfully, the days of VHS are in the past, and we now have high definition (HD) camcorders available to us. These little cameras are amazing, not just because the quality of the footage won’t deteriorate over time, but because of the clarity of the images. I got one before my first daughter, Madeline, was born, and always have it with me so I can whip it out whenever I want. Mike used to tease me about how often I used it, but now he’s almost more excited than I am about the hundreds of hours of crystal clear footage we have of big family events as well as everyday life.
I take pride in knowing I’m doing a good job in preserving my family’s memories, and am looking forward to the day somewhere down the line when I delight my grandchildren with these movies. I’m pretty sure Annie’s kids will love seeing our life in HD even if in their time they’re used to capturing their family moments with hologram cameras!
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