As you would expect all the seminal events are given ample room, everything from the Wright brothers, the Titanic, all the major wars, Nelson Mandela freed, various sporting events etc, (although there’s no room for photos of the victory parade from Mansfield Town FC’s glorious Freight Rover Trophy win of 1987).
But as fascinating as those photos are, my real interest rested in the people pictured in their day to day lives and how, when viewed from a completely unbiased point of reference, they could be interpreted.
To me each photo holds at least a spark of melancholy, either from the faux happy faces masking the strain of fear during the Blitz to the innocuous, such as people posing outside a factor or for a family photo, these latter I can blame on my wild imagination, judging in hindsight about how our society evolved or just some ungraspable element that I have conjured up out of the ether. It’s a hobby of mine, almost a fetish.
Each photo is its own rich memory bank, whether it be of a personal nature to someone who knows the photo protagonists or to the casual observers who just sees the rich and fascinating tapestry of all the ideas and possibilities that each person conjures up. The mundane becomes fascinating in the viewer’s eyes, these are stories begging to be told.
The inverse of that of course centres around the real tragedies of life. The most appallingly shocking being the Holocaust, something which will resonate forever as one of the darkest times of civilization if that word can even be used in this context. Looking at those photographs words fail me…
The changing and cycling through and back around again of all things has long fascinated me, this is best reflected in each photos attire of the day and as strange as it seems it gave me an interest in the changing of fashions of the past century. It is amazing what you can find interesting after having spent most of your life only buying one item of clothing a year (that doesn’t include socks).
Through it all though, thanks to the age of the camera, we can see the hopes, fears and aspirations, the pride and horror to be had in equal portions, like snapshots in the old family photo album of humanity, stark glimpses of life strugglers and revellers. A celebration of all facets of life both good and bad, endlessly open to interpretation and possibility, quite predictably this makes me both happy and sad.