We used to do an exercise when I was a student: we would get a random photo, with people we never met, and were tasked with writing a short story using anything that was in the picture. That would include reading facial expressions, body language, the position of the people in relation to one another. It’s not very easy, but if you got a good picture, you could get material for a proper story. This picture is one from our Urban Learning Centre. I have seen it before, but only now I see how rich it is in writing ideas.
Check out the two girls in the middle and their opposing expressions: one is laughing, the other is worried. What do they see? Why are they reacting so differently? Maybe it’s a race and they both have a bet? Not in money though, but with something as precious, something they both want, but there is enough for just one…
How about the three boys in the top right corner? The two of them are looking with interest while the other missed the whole incident. If the three of them were friends, is he the one that is the ‘slow one’ always a step behind those two? Do they laugh at him secretly, because he needs the joke explained to him? Or maybe he knows something those two don’t, a secret that the other two will never know?
How about the hugging kids? I can’t read the face of the one facing the camera. Is she crying or laughing? Does she seek comfort or is giving a celebratory hug to her friend or sibling?
I guess, the inspiration material is only limited by your imagination, but I’ve found this particular picture much more inspiring that many we had used during my course. And the archives have many, many more like this one.
Pictures-everybody love them. We do too, but we love the ones that are annotated even more because it is better to know who is on them. It’s not only because you can put a name to a face, so you don’t just stare on bunch of unknown people. It’s because when a request for information comes, we can send over a picture alongside our findings. But, have you ever tried to find that one picture of your friend Andy from that time you went to a party dressed like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from 2001? Imagine just that, but with a stack of really old photos of people you’ve never met. So, the next project is listing the photos with the names attached to them so you can find that one guy you’re looking for. Except it’s another good intention that is tough to execute. Mostly because for some reason the names on the pictures are often tiny. Which leaves you squinting through the magnifier for an hour, hoping you’re getting it right. I don’t even know what kind of writing implement they have used, unicorn hair maybe? Here is the picture I took with the magnifier:
Here is the picture of our Urban Sports club c.a 2012 I really like this picture for the creative approach to the subject. It’s hard to look through the sport photos for a long time and not get bored with rows and rows of static faces. Well, this one is different. And if you were unsure of what Urban Sports were, well, the answer is in the picture itself.
I dig in the archives so much and go back into so long ago it makes me feel as old as an average mayfly. But then I am a part of that story too, and so are the people that were in my class.
With the influx of the sport-related pictures came those that were made while I was a student. I remembered that, although we were humanists, we also had some people that were very involved in sports. I tried to find them, but I had little luck. Either I misremembered or they stopped playing before the pictures were taken. But then I stumbled across one face I will never forget. That girl in the black is Charlotte Hook, one of my classmates.
Here I often share memories of people that I never knew, memories that belong to other people. Now let me share memories of Charlotte, because we are too part of Marjon’s story.
She is the most magnificent loudmouth you have ever seen. Usually I am annoyed by loud people, but I was never annoyed by Charlotte. She’s just this person that brings energy with her everywhere she goes. Charlotte is also a professional Scooby-Doo impersonator. She’s a mistress of everything that is zany and goofy and I always was envious of that.
I remember when we were on the Writer’s Retreat in Boscastle. I can still see her sitting in her trademark hoodie, with her hair sticking out like a nest of copper wire, and playing board games with the exuberance of a small tornado. We were all used to her volume, but after one especially explosive exclamation, somebody finally said: ‘Charlotte! That’s REALLY loud!’
Oh Charlotte, never let anyone to shush you! I do hope you google yourself sometimes, so I can tell you: never change.
Filed under people, photos
See this mound of completely mixed pictures? That is a classic example of an iceberg. You only see the very tip of it:-). That’s what I was doing recently, sorting the pictures according to subject and series. We got a ton of those as a donation from another department. We have among others: a series that students had taken when traveling to Bergen, a series of children events complete with creepy clown, and very unhappy Plymouth marathonists. It might sound boring, but to tell the truth, it’s right up my alley. If you gave me a box of mixed beads or coins or buttons when I was a child, you’d have me occupied and silent for the rest of the day.
I’m sure that I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say that again: sign and date your pictures. The generations of archivists yet unborn will love you for that forever.
Not much of a post this week due to boring organizational reasons. But I want to share one of my favourite old photos from the time Marjon campus was brand new. I really like the composition, there is something nicely dynamic about it. Notice how the library still lacks the third floor.