I sometimes wonder if the pictures I take and the scrapbooks I keep will ever mean anything to my children. Am I making too many books? Do we have too many photos? What will all these mean to my children and their children when I am no longer here? Will this be a burden instead of a gift?

These questions were answered recently as I was reminded of the power of pictures and the immense treasure they can be. When I was a young child, my parents became amateur photographers and Super 8 film makers. Way before the Sony “Handicam” and the digital era, my father was an avid photographer and filmmaker. He invested in the best equipment on the market at the time: a Minolta 35mm camera and a Super 8mm filming camera, which was his favourite toy! Both my parents made a point of capturing their lives, our lives, as often as possible (and as much as their budgets permitted). Back in the mid-sixties to late seventies, these hobbies were quite expensive. Slides were the “in” thing and much cheaper to develop. However, slides were a bit of a pain to view and share. Every so often, my father would pull out the equipment for a family evening of photo and film viewing. It was a big production: he would set-up his big screen, slide projector and film projector and pull out boxes and boxes of memories. We would all gather around the screen and watch for hours on end as he narrated each shot, each strip of film. The Super 8mm films had no sound but it didn’t matter at all, we loved watching everyone come to life on the screen. Those viewing nights were so much fun and no one minded hearing the same stories told over and over again. But to be honest, we never managed to see everything, and many memories never made it out of the boxes…

By the 90s, as the equipment aged and broke, the picture viewing evening eventually died off. The boxes stayed in storage and other than being mentioned from time to time, they never saw the light of a projector again. I always knew I wanted to rescue the slides and the old films but didn’t really know how to go about it. In the early 2000s, my dad managed to transfer all the Super 8 films to CDs but this type of media also became obsolete: our history was held hostage in derelict technology! And then came along conversion services by Forever™. At last, I had a solution!!! And a big, big project ahead of me. It took me a while to get the slides organized and to save the money necessary to convert hundreds of slides. In total, my father had accumulated over 3500 slides (a substantial number for that era). Thankfully, each slide had been lovingly catalogued and stored in slide holding boxes. There were surprisingly well preserved. I painstakingly looked at each one (without a light box), selecting those that seemed most pertinent to my life’s history. I was able to retrieve a little over 800 slides and finally, in the winter of 2019, I sent a box of some of my most precious possessions to Forever™ conversion services. I had no duplicates and no negatives so sending this box away took a huge leap of faith. I can’t tell you how excited I was the day I received the USB key and all my slides back. I couldn’t wait to see the slides in their new digital format. I laughed and wept as I rekindled with these old photos, discovering some I never even knew existed! In that moment, I realized my role as family historian had tremendous value.

From 1969 to 1972, we lived in Europe thanks to a position my father accepted as a civilian high school teacher on the Canadian Army Base in Lahr Germany. During those three years, we travelled a lot on weekends and summer vacation. My parents bought a Volkswagen camper which permitted us to explore so many European countries. All the pictures taken during those three years were in slide format so needless to say, I was thrilled to finally reconnect with all those beautiful memories. So many scenes came back to life! I was transported back in time with nearly every shot, many eliciting moments that had been stored so far away in my head. Some pictures even triggered other senses as I could “feel” myself stepping back in specific places. Each image evoked so many mental movies, it was remarkable how clearly the stories came to life. I came across a bunch of photos taken in 1971, in a small medieval town in the south of France called Aigues-Mortes. Of the many places we visited back then, this little town was one of my favourites. So much so that I had often dreamed of bringing my family there one day. My wish came through in 2015 when we travelled to the South of France with my sons, then 19 and 21, my husband, my Dad and my stepmom to visit my stepsister and her family who live in Montpellier. Aigues-Mortes was a definite must on our itinerary! I rediscovered this charming old town and loved it as much as the first time. So, you can easily imagine my surprise and giddiness when I discovered I had pictures of my dad, my sister and I taken in those exact same spots 44 years earlier! Seeing these pictures side by side was beyond amazing! I couldn’t think of a better way to connect these two distinct, yet similar moments in time, than by creating a special scrapbook page. I can’t wait to give my father a copy of this page!

As for the rest of the converted slides, the project of sorting, documenting, showcasing in special albums and storing in my Forever™ account is well underway! I still must convert those CDs; that’s my next big project. I suspect once these are delivered, I will weep and laugh all over again! Oh, and I confess: I no longer believe my photos will ever become a burden! I truly believe I am creating an amazing legacy for many generations to come.

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10 Responses to Sprite Blog: Then and Now by Nathalie Seguin

  1. Sandy Norman says:

    What a lovely story. It is a true example of why we do what we do. Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Carol-Anne says:

    I really enjoyed your Blog Nathalie. I have a similar story regarding slides. Back in 1983 when I was in my early twenties and living in Ottawa, I went on a 2 month European tour. I took 14 rolls of slides documenting all of the wonderful places I visited. For a year or so after returning home I shared slides with friends and family. Fast forward several years; the slide projector broke and no one seemed interested in slide shows anymore! The box of slides got moved with me from Ottawa, to London, to Belleville, ON where I now live. In 2012, I converted all the slides to jpegs and did a Forever 12 x 12 digital book. It was a lot of work, but well worth it! I By the way, we are almost neighbours – I have been either a resident or frequent visitor to Ottawa since 1979. Although I live in Belleville, ON., we have a cottage in the Lanark Highlands near Perth and Almonte. Thank you for sharing your story – I look forward to seeing more of your work on the p2P sites!

  3. Nathalie says:

    I wish I had the time to respond to each of you individually: thank you so much for your comments!

  4. Laura Johnson says:

    Nathalie, you are going to be a great asset to the P2P team! I can’t wait for more stories and inspiration from you.

  5. Carol Smith says:

    Great blog! Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m running now to go dive into my slides!

  6. Nancy Tosh says:

    Hi Nathalie – I hope that you consider scrapping your blog post as it alone would make a wonderful page. It would also go perfectly as a 2nd page of a DP outline. This is such an excellent post and for me, it stresses the importance of journalling in my books.

  7. Ola Otto says:

    Thank you, Nathalie Seguin, for sharing your story. You captured my dilemma perfectly.

  8. Darryl Harper says:

    I agree that it is just as important to convert the the slides and videos
    . I just finished converting 22 years of my grandchildren’s videos and can now enjoy watching them in my Forever streaming account. I just received my next Forever box and have to go through my Traditional scrapbooks for pages to scan. Big job ahead!

  9. Linda Foote says:

    Nathalie, I can definitely relate. My first 35 mm camera was a Minolta but I was the one taking slides and negatives. Some of my slides are still in the carousel. My Dad did the Super 8mm. You have a great ending, I have no idea what happened to my Dad’s movies, we found the projector but it was empty. I keep going through boxes hoping to find them, My sisters and I would be so thrilled. Sorry Forever* conversion services were not around 40 years ago. Ann Marie is right on – your memories are truly precious. I can’t wait to see and hear more of them!

  10. Ann Marie says:

    Nathalie you are such a wonderful writer. Looking forward to more of your stories. These memories are truly precious!

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