Taking Care of the Past

There was a piece on The Exposure Project last week about the photography of disaster. With Katrina still fresh on the brain, and so many other disasters of a smaller and more personal nature in the news on a daily basis, this particular thread touched home with me.

As the tragedies have unfolded in Texas with all their flooding, I’m reminded of a thought I had during Katrina. While recording the events is important from a documentational perspective, the thing that strikes me more is the preservation of family histories.

With our little flood in the house last week, it brought home to me so much more the desire to protect the past, the images and knowledge of it, and to work hard to ensure that no matter what, mine’s preserved. But, what of the folks in harm’s way?

I think I saw something about this concept during Katrina’s time, but it seems to me that a better service we photographers could render than documentation of the devastation would be the preservation and recovery of the lives of those so afflicted by disaster. I mean, couches and cars and homes — while financially devastating to replace — can be replaced. Images from the past simply cannot. It seems by swooping in while things are still wet, images could be recovered and scanned before the images grow brittle and too hard to work with.

What a great concept, eh?! Maybe one day, that’ll be my calling. It’s certainly a worthwhile endeavour.