Even with digital photography you can reproduce that magical moment when a negative image on a film, with a scene depicted which you can barely construe, bursts into real life in the developing dish. At last you can see your picture! The same thing happens when you scan or photograph some negatives and then change them into positives, but now at the press of a button. That is what I have just been doing for a small Crewe & District Local History Association project. There were 80 small glass plates; some were relatively well known photographs of the Crewe Cottage Hospital Fete (1907) which were recently featured in a book “Change at Crewe”. The others, well nobody at present knows the photographer or his subjects. They are mainly people posing stiffly in their Sunday best outside the windows of their terraced houses, in the “yard”. There is no attempt to disguise this urbane backdrop, though sometimes the Aspidistra has been brought outside from its gloomy world to decorate the scene, perched on its fancy stand. Of course we all know the strictures the slow process of photography placed on the art in those days; you had to keep still, you needed lots of light. It was also very much an occasion, even if the photographer was a friend or family member.
Among these rigid compositions were two or three really charming shots and you wish the photographer (I assume they are all one person’s work) had done more like those. The rigidly posed shots communicate a lot of information but these few show life and soul. It is so much easier to be involved with these images and feel you are sharing in the lives of the subjects. You empathise and you are involved; something to remember with our own photography.
As the club comes up to its 70th year we will be assembling photos from the club’s past and present). We record things for history all the time without knowing it. Every time you press the shutter you capture a bit of history – perhaps we can think about how our pictures help future historians to piece together our times.