Saturday, 24 March 2012

Preserving Dad's Photographic Inheritance - 50 Years On

Back in August, I wrote here about my father's love of photography.

I wrote at the time of the plan to finally convert his VHS videos to DVD, over 8 years after his passing. Well, I'm pleased to say that thanks to Stephen Radford in Maesteg, that process is underway. The best two conditioned VHS videos have been converted and the many more are a work in progress.

A 50th Anniversary Present to Dad
Dad's slide collection: 1961-1976
I also mentioned in passing in that August piece of my father's earlier steps into the world of photography with the many photos that he took and converted into slides. Over the years he amassed a wealth of photos which he diligently stored in a series of 6 boxes. In all, he left us with over 1,000 slides ranging from 1961-1976. Every Christmas in the 1980s, he'd dust them all off and give us a show of these photos and it was always one of my seasonal highlights. As the years went by, the projector and the screen would be seen less often and since Dad died, they have all been stored in those same 6 differently coloured boxes, in a cupboard in my maternal home in the Preseli Hills.

Visual Social History Par-Excellence
As well as the need to convert Dad's old videos to DVD, I have always felt as well the need to ensure that his even older slides were copied to a more modern format. As the years have moved on with no change, the greater has grown my anxiety of the need to preserve Dad's photographic inheritance.

Well, I can again report great progress. With thanks to Scolton Manner near Haverfordwest, that great collection of over 1,000 slides are being coverted to CD. The first two of those boxes have been converted and I now have them here, downloaded on this very computer. The remaining 4 boxes are currently being converted and should, I hope, be completed within a matter of weeks.

Dad aged 25/26 in 1962
What this collection gives us is not just the visual images of my father's family and the farm on which I was born and bred in south Pembrokeshire but more than that, a wider social history of the community in which my father lived and his passions in an era that was epitomised by The Beatles, the mini and well, the mini-skirt! It gives us glimpses into a past of motorbikes, into a bygone agricultural era and to the sights of villages such as Lawrenny, Carew, Jeffreston, Saundersfoot, Tenby, Lydstep, Cresswell Quay and Cannastan Bridge.

Now these southern Pembrokeshire place names will mean very little to very many of the readers of this blog. But for me, it is a sight back to my youth and beyond.

It is completely coincidental that it is now, exactly 50 years on from the start of Dad's collection in the early 1960s, that we are finally transferring them to modern media to be preserved for posterity.

As a tribute to my father, I will use this blog to showcase many of these photos in the weeks, months and years ahead. For too long we allowed them to rest quietly with only the rare foray into the light of day.

Now I will endeaour to showcase my father's great talent to ensure that the magic of his love of photography lives on and can be viewed by new generations, and old.

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