Monday, 17 September 2012

The Narrative of a Life...

“Most lives vanish. A person dies, and little by little all traces of that life disappear. An inventor survives in his inventions, an architect survives in his buildings, but most people do not leave behind monuments or lasting achievements: a shelf of photograph albums, a fifth-grade report card, a bowling trophy, an ashtray filched from a Florida hotel Room on the final morning of some dimly remembered vacation. A few objects, a few documents, and a smattering of impressions made on other people. Those people invariably tell stories about the dead person, but more often than not dates are scrambled, facts are left out, and the truth becomes increasingly distorted, and when those people die in their turn, most of the stories vanish with them."

- Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies. p. 301

Photo-albums serve as a visual chapter of the life of the person who has most often compiled it. The Bearer, if you like. Like any good story, most have some kind of beginning and end but the best ones are the ones that frustrate the viewer/reader by being too open-ended. Too ambiguous in interpretation. More questions are left unanswered. They generally record happy times. Memories of a pleasant and/or meaningful period in a persons life - after all, nobody compiles a photo book to record the pain and suffering life brings - such as Holidays, Vacations, Birthdays, Bar Mitzvah’s and weddings. But as with life itself there are usually questions left unanswered and it is usually for these unanswerables that we are drawn to them as objects. We appreciate photo-albums for their time-capsule ability to pull us into a past once more. Albums from other countries as well as other times particularly have this draw to them. A strivation for normalcy must continue above all else.


  1. I don't seem to have seen your blog before even though I'm following it. Strange. I love these photos. At the weekend the greatest treasure: an abandoned Polaroid photo to join a previous one I picked up off the pavement in NYC last Christmas.

  2. Hi Jane, thanks for the kind comments. They are from a whole album I found but not on the street like you were so lucky to. I think somebody has just made a book of abandoned/lost polaroid photos actually. I'd love to see yours.