Photography and Memory Project.
The invention of photography was announced in 1839, first by Louis Daguerre in France, and then by William Henry Fox Talbot in England. Since then, the enduring legacy of photography has been its magical ability to freeze time and mirror reality. However, until 1888, making photographs was a slow and technically complex affair exclusive to well-to-do practitioners. In 1888, roll film, invented by George Eastman in Rochester, New York, (Eastman Kodak Company) simplified the photographic process, thereby making photography accessible to ordinary people. Most photographs made since 1888 are snapshots, created by amateurs with the primary objective of preserving memories.
What differentiates snapshots from other genres of photography is, quite simply, love. Typically, a family photograph album represents the distillation of significant people and life events and bestows visual expression to the celebration of memory. Regardless of age, gender, race or nationality, family photograph albums communicate the same information. As Susan Sontag writes in On Photography: “Through photographs, each family constructs a portrait-chronicle of itself - a portable kit of images that bears witness to its connectedness.”
Capitalizing on family photographs, the Photography and Memory project fosters connections between University of Denver students and senior community members. During previous iterations of the project, we invited participants to identify a most significant family photograph. The significant photo was used to share life stories and to illuminate connections between generations. This year, participants chose a photograph that, for them, defines home. This year also marked the third Photography and Memory project funded by LinkAGES, Colorado.
The collaborating partners for our Spring 2021 project included: Osher Lifelong Learning students at the University of Denver, (OLLI at DU) managed by Amy DelPo, Administrator of Older Adult Services at Denver Public Library; Instructor Anne Walker’s communication studies students from the University of Denver, and Associate Professor Roddy MacInnes’s photography students also from the University of Denver. Interactions between groups were conducted via Zoom, except for one session where many of the participants met at Washington Park, bringing with them their photographs depicting what home means. The Washington Park photographs adorn the pages of this magazine.
Although photography has evolved technically since the invention was announced in 1839, what ordinary people photograph has not changed. The enduring subject for average photographers is life, particularly life’s milestones - plus moments in between. We create a photographic trail of our existence. Since the contents of each family photo album contains documentation of similar life experience, our commonalities are illuminated. Consequently, family photo albums represent gold mines of inspiration for present and future Photography and Memory projects.
Project partners: Anne Walker, Amy DelPo and Roddy MacInnes
We wish to thank: LinkAGES, Colorado - Denver Public Library - Denver Art Museum - Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging - University of Denver