Images that store or spark memories, and what to do about them.

More Kodak Moments of Closure: Kodak Gallery, Ektachrome

Kodachrome is now gone, with Ektachrome soon to follow. A coupla slides in one of my slide carousels. I've used them both, used them well. The Death of Kodak announcements, they keep rolling in. No sooner do I post about America’s Storyteller, Kodak, shedding parts of their photo businesses, and they announce a couple more endings. Kodak Gallery to be sold to Shutterfly, and Ektrachrome will go the way of Kodachrome: Away. Dead. Finis.

Kodak Gallery: In which I say something and am immediately proven wrong

I had this IM conversation last week. A friend read the previous entry and said

Friend: “I didn’t realize Kodak was going out of business. That’s unbelievable.”
Susan:  “I don’t think kodakgallery is on the chopping block…”

I said that because I’d read from the ending-of-digital-camera announcement that Kodak would be concentrating on their printing business. After all Kodak Gallery is a printing business, right? Upload photos, and get them printed. Alas, no. It looks as though Kodak will sell its Kodak Gallery site to Shutterfly. (The “printing business” is digital printers and inks) It’s a good thing I ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 04, 2012 in • LongevityObsolecencePhotographs
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Kodak: From “Remember The Day In Pictures” to “Remember using a Kodak camera?”

Kodak Ad, Life Magazine, Oct 10, 1949: Keep 'Family History' in snapshots For nearly 125 years Kodak’s reason for existence has been to provide the tools for people to create memories.
“Remember the day in pictures.”
“Keep ‘Family History’ in snapshots.”
“Remember the visit with snapshots.”
“For over 100 years people have trusted their memories to Kodak film.”
Kodak, the company that started in 1880 and popularized the film camera and invented the digital camera, recently announced that they’re no longer going to manufacture digital cameras and photo frames. How does one think of a dying behemoth? And not just any corporate behemoth, but a company that has been integral to capturing and storing our memories? Their 1970s ad said, “We’re America’s storyteller celebrating life with you –picturing the stories of everything you do.” Now Kodak is transforming into a memory.

Kodak ads in Life Magazine during the 1940s and 1950s.

There are three ways to consider this transformation.

The “Wow. Just wow.” factor

Most of the stories I’ve seen fit in this category . Wow. Kodak is no longer making digital cameras. Wow. Kodak is the company that invented the digital camera. The company has been around, like, forever. Look at that. Such a change. Wow. It just takes your breath away.

Let the Children Kodak.  Advertising Ephemera Collection - Database #K0079 Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Over my lifetime, I’ve shot pictures with an Instamatic camera, and a Pocket Instamatic (using Kodak film, of course.) When I got a 35mm Single Lens Reflex, I kept using Kodak film—lots of Kodak film. When I took a photography class, I bought Kodak chemicals and photo paper. I got a Kodak slide carousel projector ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 29, 2012 in • DigitalityInterviewingLongevityMemorabiliaObsolecencePhotographs
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The Mushroom Cloud Photograph: Preview of Digital Audio Workshop for SOHA Conference

Rachel Fermi holds the snapshot of the first atomic bomb explosion.  Jack Aeby, photographer. Event date: July 16 1945, New Mexico. Family history meets History history: For the Digital Audio Workshop I’m teaching at the SOHA Conference, I will work from an interview with the granddaughter of the physicist who conducted the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Photographer Rachel Fermi talks about discovering a color snapshot of a mushroom cloud in a box of family photographs. That discovery led her to create (with co-author Esther Samra) a book-length photo essay of the Manhattan Project, called Picturing The Bomb.

Here’s a little foretaste of the audio we will work with at the workshop, which takes place in a week and a half in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.

And yes, you can still register!!

Here are some photos from the interview (during the last days of 2010), and four short edited audio excerpts. 

Rachel Fermi holds a photograph of her grandfather, Enrico Fermi, and his brother, Giulio. Enrico's brother died in childhood, and Enrico dealt with his extreme grief by reading about physics. Foreground: photo of Enrico Fermi (right) and his brother Giulio in Rome, Italy. Background Rachel Fermi

In the FIRST AUDIO RECORDING [MP3, 1:07], Rachel describes the background—how she’s related to Enrico Fermi, and what she was told about him when she was young. (Although she was born in the United States, Rachel grew up in Cambridge, England.)

“I was told a little bit about my grandfather. I knew that he was a physicist, and I knew that he’d won a Nobel Prize. But as I was ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 21, 2011 in • HistoryPhotographs
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Interviewing while looking at photo albums (Part 2)

Great Aunt Doris, in her photo album (earliest pictures date from around 1915 or so) For Part 2 of this two-part series about interviewing using photo albums, I made you a movie!

Using the writerly maxim, “Show, don’t tell,” I show you what it’s like to view photos while listening to people talk about them. I’ve written the important lesson before – describe out loud what you see on the page – but it’s easier to watch and listen to see how important it is to put what you know into the recording. The movie features the glorious album of my Great Aunt Doris, the painter and horsewoman. (See Part 1)

I put this movie together from the audio recording of an interview I did with my mother a few years back. I just started up the audio and we looked through the album in two long sessions. Don’t worry, this movie is much shorter than the long afternoon we spent poring over its pages. You’ll join us as we look at one spread in the album and talk about the photos on its pages.

You get to step into the shoes of someone who comes along later—someone who wasn’t present at the interview—and try to make sense of the photos by looking at the photos.  It’s 4:46 minutes long.

[note: if you are reading this using a feed reader (Google Reader, Feed Demon, Bloglines, NewsGator, Net News ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 16, 2010 in • InterviewingPhotographs
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The Scrapbook Belonging to Great Aunt Doris

Great Aunt Doris stands atop her beloved horse, Pete. What an album, what a treasure. This is my Great Aunt Doris’ photo album/scrapbook. In honor of the 100th episode of the Carnival of Genealogy, I offer you an album that is nearly 100 years old. Doris attended the Fenway School of Illustration in Boston during the ’teens. There are photos from home in Montana, the Blackfoot Indian tribe, and photos from New York, where she lived with her sister and brother in law (my grandparents).

I pulled out this photo album again recently (it’s the topic of Intervewing with Photo Albums, part 2, and I’m using it to make a little movie for you). I got stalled on some of the movie making because, well, there’s so much interesting stuff in it. So much. It’s huge. I can’t share it all. (I haven’t even scanned the whole thing.) But I can give you a sample.

Doris moved from Billings, Montana, to Boston Massachusetts to attend the Fenway School of Illustration. The early pages of her album show her in school, with her friends from school.

Note: click any image to enlarge.

One of the first pages of Doris Fogler's album. FSI stands for Fenway School of Illustration, located in Boston. This album dates from the teens. 1915?

The FSI medallion in the image above was, I guess, the Fenway School logo. When my mother and I talked over these photos, Mama didn’t know what, exactly F.S.I. stood for. The Fenway School of Art? Something? What’s with the I? Thanks to a recent bout of searching on Google, I learned that Fenway School stands for Fenway School of Illustration.

Here's a spread of the artists and their models. Check out that model top center. That's Doris. In her full riding gear.

According to the Friends of Fenway Studio, the art school met in the Fenway Studio building.

...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 01, 2010 in • GenealogyMemorabiliaPersonalPhotographs
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Interviewing while looking at photo albums (Part 1)

Photo album cover and interior page (this happens to be my Dad's Mom's album - Grandma Kitchens, from her sojourns in the west before she met and settled down with my Grandpa) When you get together with family at Thanksgiving, will you spend all your time in the kitchen and dining table? Make some time to hear family stories. One basic way to capture stories is to look at photo albums and ask questions about the people and places, and the events depicted therein.

Photos are a great means of eliciting stories. Photos (and photo albums) also provide a fantastic start on a journey of collecting family history stories.

More than one older relative has replied to the request for an interview with something like—“What? you want to interview me? But my life’s been so normal. So unexciting. What would I possibly have to say?”

That same person who objects to an “Interview” (with a capital I) probably finds it perfectly reasonable to sit down and identify people in photographs. “Why of course I’ll tell you who these people you’ve never met are.” Easy-peasy. Slam-dunk.

Another page from the Grandma Kitchens photo album. Here she is, riding her beloved horse, Chief. Now you’re off and running. Then the person will start remembering, ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 19, 2010 in • InterviewingPhotographs
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Wordless Wednesday, 5 years after 05/05/05 Family Reunion Edition

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Click the big wide photo to enlarge.
Photo taken by camera timer. But it was my camera.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 05, 2010 in • Personal HistoryPhotographs
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A shoebox of photos

(This is in memory of Steve, and is for Debbi) His sister looked through the shoebox of photos. “Wow! I’ve never seen these before!” Sister and Mom sat in chairs on the grass in the backyard. I sat in one of the group of chairs encircling the metal firepit. Together they paged through snapshots. His Mom held slides up to the afternoon sun.

“Dad’s hobby was photography,” Sister said. “Did you see this one? the one where he’s standing in front of that car? What kind of car is that?”

My boyfriend looks, and after a thoughtful pause, he says, “Cadillac.”

It’s a Cadillac with a long front end, maybe late 30s, early 40s. A car that you’d see at those classic car shows. The kind of car you’d wave to if you saw it barrelling along the freeway. The kind of car that brings a smile to your face in the year 2010.

“He’s always posed in front of cars,” Sister says. She and Mom look at the snapshots of toddlers in a tall tile bath. “Who is that with Steve?”

Mom looks, and says a name.

(Alas, I forgot the name. This is not my ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 03, 2010 in • MemorabiliaPhotographs
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MemoryMiner 2.0 is out!

MemoryMiner 2.0. Cool. Been looking forward to this, and readers of this site’s comment threads have had a slight heads up this was coming. The announcement arrived as I was out of town for the holiday. MemoryMiner’s developer, John Fox, is the digital family photo Santa. I came up with a wishlist of items while working with the till-now current version, will have to download it and check out the new version.

UPDATE: I’ve been taking a look at the demo movie, and I like the things I see in there so much that I’m putting the movie here, too.

Thought this movie is for the Mac version, MemoryMiner is cross-platform. Looks as though, at this point, MemoryMiner 2.0 is Mac-only at this point. I’ll get you more news about any plans for MemoryMiner 2.0 for Windows.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 31, 2009 in • Digital StorytellingPersonal HistoryPhotographs
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Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank (June 2009)

image Memories of Jamboree, Burbank, California, from June of this year. Image: Footnotes at Jamboree. What fun it was to meet fellow Geneabloggers and hang out. I think I spent more time hanging and talking than I did going to the conference sessions at Jamboree.

I began composing this post the day after Jamboree. But then I got sick. All of July I was sick. Then other stuff happened. But hey, I know that today’s the day when plans for next year’s Jamboree kicks off, so what better time to belatedly recall Jamboree last June than today?

I didn’t make it to the Son of Blogger session (exhaustion set in, alas—June had been a jam-packed month), so that event was a micro-cosm of my posting of late (not much, you?)

I did make it to the Geneabloggers dinner on Saturday night, though. And, as you can tell by this image (click to view high rez version), a lot of other Geneabloggers made it, too! (not pictured: Thomas Macentee, nor I)


Here’s a ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 12, 2009 in • GenealogyPhotographs
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MIT class of 1920: A gift in my email

image This image is a gift, one I received in an email. My cousin sent it to me a couple of weeks back. Subject line: “Grandma Joe* Graduation Photo.” She went to MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – and graduated in 1920.

I have Grandma’s letters that she received when she was at MIT, and one or two photos from that time, but this unexpected one is a beaut.

click to enlarge

[Welcome, BoingBoingers & followers of @Xeni!
Stats about early MIT below; or maybe you’d be interested in a foto essay of my other, non-techy Grandma and her 1924 climb of Mt Rainier when she was 23 years old.]

Of the 40 people in this photo, Florence, also known as Flossie (upper right)—is the only woman. The photo arrived in email all by itself. The only clues were the file name and the subject line. Other than knowing that Flossie graduated from MIT in 1920, I don’t know much else about this photo. But one good gift leads ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 10, 2009 in • Letters in the AtticPersonal HistoryPhotographs
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Dad Memorial Scanfest, part 2: How we used the images

imageMy Dad’s memorial was filled with photos, dear reader. Filled with them. The memorial was a little over a week ago. Here’s what went down. Here’s what we did with the photos I scanned (as described in Part 1). (I’ll write one more post about lessons learned on a personal level)

The basic workflow of the images was: Scanning app → Photoshop where I did some basic color correction. When I scan images, I make them as big as possible, huuuuge file sizes. The scanner gave me the option of saving as TIFFs, so I did that. Before I brought them into MemoryMiner, I did a batch process in Photoshop to reduce the image size to half of what it was before, which left enough pixels for anyone who wanted to print out a high-ish resolution photo (longer dimensions average somewhere above 1200 pixels.) I changed foto format to high resolution JPEGs because I’m planning on eventually distributing the photo library, and I want it all to fit on a single DVD (capacity 4.7 GB) ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 23, 2009 in • PersonalPhotographs
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The Dad Memorial Scanfest Marathon

I’ve been on a tear, scanning family photos, for Dad’s memorial – the printed program, slideshow, and to burn on CD to share among extended family. I wrote most of this post when I was near the end of Marathon session #2, over the Hallowe’en/All Saints weekend a week+ ago. Find the album, pull out the fotos, scan at super high resolution. Open Photoshop to crop and/or copy paste just the individual image into its own image file. All of this has me thinking about the best way to share and manage a huge photo collection. This is one of those “thinking out loud” post, most composed 10 days ago, with some follow-up comments from today.

It’s been a month since Dad died, and the memorial is set for this weekend. This has allowed us some time to breathe, and to give family members time to plan a trip here for Dad’s memorial. It’ll be a Great Gathering. The scanfest(s) are to prepare for it.

Even though Dad’s memorial is a week and a half away, at 2 weeks out I felt the tug of this scanfest project drawing to a close. It could go on forever. Seriously. There are so. many. more. pictures. (And slides. So many slides!)

But there are other things to do. These photos need to be resized from gargantuan full-resolution .tif  or .psd file to high-rez jpegs, then brought into MemoryMiner. Where I identify who-where-when ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 11, 2009 in • PersonalPhotographs
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Playing with MemoryMiner export

MemoryMiner and exporting. I’m figuring out how to export a library and then transfer that to my laptop, so that I can show you MemoryMiner if you’ll be at the SoCal Genealogical Jamboree (Twitter hashtag #scgs09) this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The app is available on both Mac and Windows; I’ve got the Mac version, of course/ The export process isn’t the most obvious, so I’m writing about how I will accomplish it.

How I will... notice the future tense. This is still a work in progress.

The photo library dates back some time, and individual photos reside all over the frickin’ place on my computer—some in iPhoto libraries, some in folders each of which representing different scanning session, the most recent of which was an ego-scan session to compile a set of photos of myself for a birthday party invite. The photos themselves are pretty large, if they’re PSD (photoshop) files, because I scan them at fairly high rez. Many photos are over 20MB in file size. The largest, I think, is around 60 MB.

I decided to work with an external disk drive (easy to change from my main desktop computer to my ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 23, 2009 in • Family History SoftwareHow-ToPersonal HistoryPhotographs
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Photography changes what we remember

This 3.5 minute video (direct YouTube link; embedded below) is an interview with Hugh Talman, a photographer with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He muses on his act of photographing the aftermath of Katrina. The curator who was planning to visit the area asked him, “What would you photograph?” His reply: “you’d photograph the evidence of the power of Katrina. I don’t style myself as photojournalist, but it turned into having photojournalistic aspects to it.” The video shows some of his photos. Most striking: photographs of an object where it was found (in its full post-Katrina context), versus the object photographed the way Talman normally works with objects, shot in the sanitized setting of a photo studio. What a contrast.

Before I watched the video (and saw just its name—“changes what we remember”), I thought, “Oh, this might relate to photos and memories and how to use photos to nudge or direct memories.” Not so pointed as that. It’s more that a collection of photographs is a kind of memory artifact of how it was. The contrast between an object’s plain (studio) background versus that object in its environment so powerfully conveys the power of Katrina. The two photos of the same object may as well be two different objects. I’m inspired to hunt more carefully when I look at old photographs for objects and their contexts, and the clues they might provide about a person or a time. I’m thinking ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 10, 2009 in • HistoryInterviewingPhotographs
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