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Bedworth & Exhall Camera Club, Local friendly club. Watch, Learn and enjoy all things photographic from this long established fully affiliated club.

Don't Clone Out Our History

Open that box of old black and white photographs and look at them carefully. What do you see in that crumpled pile?
In my pile I see history. 
I sort and scan them, as everyone does, and blow them up on my screen, looking at the backgrounds, the places these picture were taken-- many places which have long gone. That’s history.
I look at my old photographs --and those taken by my family and others before me—faded, cracked and folded where they have been lying neglected in drawers and boxes over the years as photography developed - and we and our cameras got more sophisticated. 
I found a packet of 1920s photo’s taken at a christening where the light had got into the camera and burnt out Uncle Bert’s face on every one, and Aunties dress was a blob of white fluff, but the backgrounds were clear. No-one threw them away----in those days photography was magic, every photo precious.
Early 20th Century--the era when anyone could buy and use a camera, was one of the greatest phenomena of our time.
I was looking at some 2 ¼” square photos taken on a ‘60s Cornish camping holiday. In the background was a potato peeler which we took with us - a heavy clonking contraption ,with a handle on the top-- ,plus our newest claim to camping sophistication --a stove with not one, but two burners, ( in spite of the fact that we had no proper fitted groundsheet in the tent—that came later,) These were memories I had quite forgotten until I saw them again in these old pictures
Seeing these backgrounds in the photos evokes memories for me and my family. Being children then, they have different memories to mine. ( I had also forgotten until reminded that the peeler gave up the ghost at John O’ Groats a couple of years later.
We often wondered what the farmer thought it was, when he saw it sitting on a cowshed wall after we’d left.)
Children playing in the garden-- we all have those pictures. 
‘But hey’, I say, ‘ Id forgotten about that old pedal car in the background at the old house- I wonder what happened to it--- and weren’t babies prams big in those days.
And those awful orange faces in hand coloured wedding photos.
One of my favourites was a black and white wedding photo I bought from a car boot sale. It was taken in a backyard. Classic pose, ,Matriarch grimly sitting on a dining chair at the front and Patriarch standing tightly buttoned into his stiff best suit at her side. The rest of the family arranged formally around them.
But what a background. 
An old bike leans up against what looks like a privy door, and hanging on the wall, almost touching one of the bridesmaids shoulders, a large tin bath. 
Now whilst I’m not advocating that we should all dash out and buy a tin bath as an essential background prop for our wedding photographs ,my point is that far too much cloning goes on now in photographs---often because we can !
We must value this type of social history ,much of which is only contained in the normal family snapshot.
History which we are in danger of erasing in our effort to create the ‘perfect’ picture, which often is quite sterile.
Be careful when you erase unwanted detail. You may be erasing history.

Catherine Wilson,