I get asked at times if I can clean up memories. I say “Yes!” While I can’t always remember my own details of my life, I do know that a picture can help me trigger the past. It’s one reason I cannot bear to toss any of my printed photos, contact sheets, negatives, and slides even though I have already transferred them to digital.
It’s often a difficult process that takes many hours tediously taking an old vintage print, digitizing it and then work on editing it to feel “new” again. The aged pieces that got stuck in the sunlight on a shelf while in a frame. The flecks of ink pulled off after being in an envelope stifled away from view. The folds and rough edges from being over loved on a fridge or in a wallet. The romanticism of the era and the wear and tear is important. In my style of weaving a new look for a photo, I’m less prone to take out all the marks of time and more aware of the story that’s needing to still be shared from the memory.
This image was in my father in law’s home. He came across it while processing his wife’s current illnesses. My mother in law has had a rough go of it lately with her health. He had asked my husband for help printing the image he scanned from his iPad. It didn’t look so hot after printing it out. Having a file that is low quality and small is not going to be successful for any size print.
My husband asked if I’d be interested in playing around with it. I took it into my editing software and started fine tuning the image. Specific color saturation, exposure in areas, spot healing, cleaning up a few tarnishes on the skin and some torn areas with flecks of color lost. It was like I was a painting again. It’s still not a perfect image that would look like we would take today with our high tech cameras…but that’s not important in this story.
Look at her pose. The middle. Front and center. A bad ass cigarette in her hand. A bit of a hip turned out to say – “Take this picture quick. I have a roast to feed these boys and I’m not interested in putting up with your tomfooleries.” I’m going to guess THAT’s what my father in law sees here. A strong woman ready to fight whatever comes her way. His current motivation piece of a memory when all was well and the leader of the pack was in her “Wunder Woman” power posture ready to take on whatever came her way – and a dinner was ready for him.
Pictures…they’re worth more than 1000 words.