If you’ve been to our Facebook page recently you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been scrapping my Dad’s European trip photos. In June and July last year, Dad travelled with a friend from Lithgow – where he lives in country New South Wales, Australia – to Europe, visiting Rome, Florence, Venice, Innsbruck, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Berlin, Hannover, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Strasburg, and Munich. He and Bob are both keen geocachers (if you’re not familiar with geocaching, it’s like a treasure hunt for grown-ups, with GPS), and they had an absolute ball travelling around Europe on trains, seeing the sights, meeting interesting people, and most importantly logging their finds.
It took me a while, but I finally got hold of Dad’s photos from his trip, loaded them into Historian, and am travelling along with them vicariously as I make a book about their adventures. It helps enormously (ha! pun on my Dad’s name – Norm), that Dad kept a diary during his travels, as well as sending home emails almost every day. I copied all those emails into a Word doc, and as I work through the photos, I can add his own words for the journaling. Dad is not overly loquacious (I love that word), but he has a quirky sense of humour and the bare bones of the story are there, along with some of his impressions of what he saw and experienced.
Sometimes it’s not that easy to identify landmarks in the photos if he hasn’t mentioned them in his diary, or if I don’t know which of the many buildings in the photos is the one he has written about. I can’t really call Dad every 5 minutes while I’m scrapping, but I have other resources to help me. A quick Google search will usually bring up plenty of images of a particular church in Venice, or castle in Budapest, that I can compare his shots to. To identify a statue near one of the bridges in Florence, I used Google maps to “visit” that bridge, then just shifted the view until I found the statue. It’s actually a lot of fun doing the detective work.
The internet also helps with all the dates and details that I like to include on travel pages – information about the history of the people and places, details about architects, how many years it took to build a cathedral, what pivotal events took place in that square, or that palace, or what famous person once lived in that nondescript corner room. The sort of stuff that brings history alive and makes a “just another street scene” photo suddenly seem full of meaning and significance. Not everyone is a history or culture nut, I know, and that’s OK. But if you are, it’s really such a thrill to (even vicariously) see the house where Vivaldi was born, the work of Michelangelo, or the palace where warring nations finally made peace.
On a more personal level, too, it’s a joy to make this book for my Dad because of the experience it gives me of seeing Europe through his eyes. What he chose to visit, the photos he chose to take, and the impressions he gives of the places and people tell me as much about him as them. That’s why I love that I get to do what I do: make photo books that record these memories and will keep them alive for the next generation and the next. I love that I get to go on this journey with Dad, and turn it into something beautiful and meaningful. Speaking of which, I’d better leave off writing and get back to work. With 45 pages done, I’m only up to day 12 of 45!
Here are some of the pages I’ve just done about Venice. Content used: Venetian Scenes – #p2PDaytonaBP. Katie Pertiet (Designer Digitals) ChelseaRae Solids Paper Pack. Font: Covington. St Mark’s Square – #p2PTimeOfMyLifeBlueprintBook. Cottage Arts Autumn Enchantment Pak. Fonts: Jellyka Delicious Cake, Modern No.20