The power of photography

Two decades ago my father had the initiative to scan all his photos that were carefully kept in family albums for many years.

He was concerned, and rightly so, that the standard life expectancy of printed photographs together with the typical high humidity of Macau would end up ruining all his pictures in a matter of time.

He was aware something had to be done.

He had the vision and the persistence to, single-handedly, complete the massive task of scanning, cropping and saving thousands of printed photos, one by one, using a basic flatbed scanner connected to a desktop PC at home.

A very simple yet effective setup that allowed him to store the newly converted JPEGs into separate folders, properly named by year and event.

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When I returned to Macau in 2003, my father proudly showed me the results of his task. I was both surprised and amazed that all of a sudden we had a very solid digital photo database in our hands. Apart from effectively future-proofing all our family mementos, this would also allow us to search and enjoy the photos in a very comfortable way.

I managed to take things to the next level by importing all the JPEGs to iPhoto on my iMac. I created photo albums and spent some time organizing everything so that it could mimic the folders created by my father. I also rectified some inaccuracies I found. Based on my own childhood memory, I created extra albums for events that my father missed and organized the photos accordingly.

The end result was pretty amazing. With its sophisticated graphics, large size thumbnails and user-defined cover photo for each album, iPhoto made everything look spectacular and easy to use.

Somewhere down the line I managed to convert my parents to use Mac instead of Windows. On a Christmas day I presented them with a large screen iMac and had the newly enhanced database pre-installed in iPhoto. They were very happy.

Photography is powerful.

We have thousands of photos spanning over half a century. Every now and then I visit this database and enjoy the photos randomly.

The memories and emotions a photo triggers on me are enormous. I could spend hours just talking about a specific photo. Who is who, the setting out, the event, where these people are now, what was happening, how this place looks like today.

It’s like travelling back in time.

When I think about all this… All of a sudden the megapixels, the EVF refresh rates, the dynamic ranges, the sharpness levels, the high ISOs… All this becomes superfluous and unnecessary.

Yes, we all like tech talk, pixel peeping and a skillfully taken photograph. But none of this is really important when I look at those photos taken with my father’s Olympus Trip 35 or Canon AE-1, loaded with whatever colour or black & white film. Who the hell gives a damn.

It’s the moment it captured and the emotion it triggers that matters.

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