On of my favorite bits of the first Harry Potter book was when Hagrid gave Harry an album full of photos of Harry's parents that he'd collected -- it made me cry. I love photos. I don't care if they're physical or digital, in albums, framed or in boxes; they've always made me happy. Conversely, the lack of photos or loss of them is heartbreaking.
Precious photos can be lost in a variety of ways; some unavoidable, some unforgivable. Sometimes, there weren't many (any) to start with: my mom was so poor growing up that there was one photograph of her until she reached school age. At that time, her older siblings were working and purchased cameras. Disasters such as fires or flood can wipe out memories. When you store files digitally, and don't backup the files (or do, and lose the disks), and have a hard drive crash, it can be heart-breaking.
The hard drive thing... that's happened to me a couple of times, and it's agonizing, especially when you're sure you backed up at least some of the pictures to CD - but can't find them. During a recent trip back to the old house to continue retrieving stuff, I found a stack of miscellaneous CDs. In the mess was a disk of pictures of my goddaughter, Sarah, dating back to the weekend we met. I thought some of those were lost forever. While we IMed back & forth yesterday, I converted them all to .jpg and uploaded them to Flickr, so she could download them if she wanted.
If those photos had not been recovered, I would have been sad, but not devastated, because I still have boxes and albums full of pictures of Sarah. A greater treasure was found this week, while we were visiting John's grandmother.
As far as we know, all the albums containing pictures of John that were in his childhood home were destroyed - intentionally. The only pictures we have of John as a child are three (kind of crappy) copies, plus another that was roughly chopped out of a background. I honestly can't imagine how hard it has been for John to see the wealth of photographs that I have, not only hundreds of pictures from my childhood, but of other generations as well. I got it in my head to take a page out of Hagrid's book, and write to some other family members, but haven't gotten a chance yet.
We were finally able to connect with one of John's grandmothers on Friday. We'd tried to get with her before Christmas to explain why we weren't coming, but things didn't work out. I've missed her - she's in her late 80s, fiercely independent and funny. We chatted for a while, then went for lunch. On a whim, I took a peek inside her "picture room" to see if there were any of John, and we spotted a couple (including the one to the left). She agreed to let me take them off the wall, scan them and then return them. I'm returning them one day this week, after work, with some brownies (like these brownies, but fresh). I scanned them at the highest resolution possible, and popped them back in their frames immediately.
In the near future, we're going to go back and sift through the tons of boxes she has to find more. I'm toying with the idea of taking the scanner and laptop with us, so she doesn't have to feel anxious about parting with her images, even temporarily.
Forget the buried gold doubloons. I'll take this kind of treasure any time! (Okay, I wouldn't turn down a chest full of gold...)