Yearning For The Printed Photograph

It’s two weeks tomorrow that my Grandma Minnie passed away. For 92 years, Minnie lived in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and for over 70 of those years, she lived in the same house. I remember visiting that house numerous times as a child, but far less, as I grew up. While Minnie often came down to visit my family here in Hamilton, Ontario (which she forever thought of as Toronto), as she got older, the visits happened less and the phone calls happened more. We shared news and exciting events through our talks, but also, through photographs.

A Photograph Of My Grandmother With My Late Uncle Benny

A Photograph Of My Grandmother With My Late Uncle Benny

After she passed away, my parents worked with my uncle and aunt to help clean out my grandmother’s house. Numerous items got shipped around to different family members, and just the other day, two massive boxes arrived at our house. The number of photographs in these boxes are incredible.

  • There are photos of my grandmother as a child.
  • There are photos of my grandmother at weddings.
  • There are photos of my grandmother at graduations.
  • There are photos of my grandmother with her friends.
  • There are photos of my grandmother with family members (both when she was a child and as she grew up).
  • There are also photos of my grandmother’s grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, showcasing the many happenings in their lives.

I’m not usually a sentimental person. I rarely hold onto any pieces of paper — and in fact, I’m often known for losing just about all paper items that I receive. I love the fact that everything is digital now. My whole life is contained on my iPad and computer, and often shared with others through YouTube, Twitter, and my blog(s). All of this being said though, there was something incredibly amazing about looking through the hundreds of photographs that my grandmother left behind. They told a story. They captured the lives of generations.

My Mom Told Me Many Stories About This Picture Of Me That My Grandmother Had In Her House

My Mom Told Me Many Stories About This Picture Of Me That My Grandmother Had In Her House

These photographs now sit on my bookshelf, on my dresser, on my desk, on the fridge, on the walls, and on shelving units throughout the house. Looking at them reminds me of my Grandma Minnie, and keeps a little bit of her always with me. Yes, photographs and videos can be stored online. They can even be shared online. But there’s something about seeing that printed copy that makes the memory stronger.

I can’t help but think about the classroom, and how in the past five years, so much of the learning is shared virtually through tweets and blog posts. I love that the parents can get a glimpse into the classroom with this electronic sharing, but I wonder what would happen if I printed and posted — even if in a handmade book — these photographs for students. Would it inspire them? If a picture’s worth a thousand words, I wonder what thousand words students might share if they were to see the picture? Technology makes sharing pictures so much easier, but as I look at the many memories my Grandma Minnie left behind in her photographs, I can’t help but wonder what’s lost as the printed photographs become harder and harder to find.


7 thoughts on “Yearning For The Printed Photograph

  1. Pingback: This Week in Ontario Edublogs | doug — off the record

  2. Sorry about the loss of your grandmother, Aviva. I am glad you have found comfort in the old pictures. Our family has been doing some of the same – going through photo albums of deceased family members. It certainly has felt like revisiting a history we didn’t know or had forgotten about. One of my daughters has been trying to keep up with print copies of many of our digital photos – she is still fond of photo albums. I am not sure how long we will keep this up and it nags me that something special will be lost ahead. Old-fashioned me 🙂

    • Thanks Sheila! It wasn’t really until my grandmother passed away that I realized the tremendous value in printed photographs. It makes me reconsider how I’ll be keeping my photographs from now on. In this case, I think that it’s worth maybe thinking about doing what we did before. (I wish that I had your daughter’s help to keep me organized with printing these photographs though. 🙂 )


  3. Aviva,
    Thanks for sharing your family pictures. Your blog post gives me a great idea to integrate literacy and media arts in a senior classroom.

  4. Aviva, I just came upon a photobook you created for my son’s class, seven years ago! Alex and I had a great time recalling events from that year, all brought on by those pictures. I silently thanked you for giving me those moments back. Yes, you can save them on the computer, but I’d rather place them around the house and enjoy them more often. Pictures don’t often mean something right away, it’s always later when they count. You also took a photo of the kids in front of the classroom door, keep doing that because it’s a great way for the kids to look at how big or small they were that year and a great way in later years to see how far they have come. The door size will never change, but they sure will!
    My idea for those pictures of your grandmother, scan your most cherished ones and have them printed as a hard cover picture book.

    • Tena, thank you so much for your comment! When I take photographs as a teacher, I don’t think that I’ve ever stopped to realize what they might mean to students or parents later. Your comment tells me that! I’m so glad that these pictures give you a chance to reminisce about that year in Kindergarten.

      And while I have photographs of my grandma around the house now, I love your Photo Book idea! What a great way to keep them organized, but also, cherish the memory!

      Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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