More about Snapshots

11206801_10206575359601626_4792430362063114779_o(1)Image by Ray Roberts

Following on from my last post related to photographs ….

Hands up if you have loads of images stored on your computer …

Yes, I thought so. Lots of hands.

Hands up if you back them up to external storage …

Ahh, I see less hands.

And there are so many choices! – pay sites such as Pbase, free sites such as Flickr, Snapfish etc. Or there is the option of ‘the cloud’ and, less recent but still valuable, external hard drive, memory stick and even CD.

What follows is not a lecture, but more of a salutary tale.

It is written in honour of the memory of Ray Roberts, whose funeral and service of reflection we were very sad to attend on 05 May.

 Ray was a long term BT colleague and friend of Shaun’s and it was obvious to anyone who attended his farewell that here was a man much loved by his family and friends. It is clear that the family’s faith sustained and supported them throughout Ray’s illness too.

Ray became a good virtual friend to me in recent years and we often swapped photo chat and messages on Facebook. He lived in Kingston all his life and was a staunch supporter of all our efforts at Kingston riverside. He was a keen (and very good) photographer with a great knowledge of technique and he possessed that special eye that sets great image makers apart. I will miss his pithy comments and his rapier wit. Ray was a man of massive character, humour and kindness.

The week before Ray’s service, I had a message from his wife, Elsa.

Can you help us?” she wrote, “we have a problem”.

I could not imagine how I would be able to help but when I spoke to Elsa, she explained that the family could not locate the lovely images from Ray and Elsa’s 25th anniversary wedding blessing in July 2008, on which occasion they renewed their vows and we all enjoyed a grand celebration. Kevin wanted to create a slideshow of images for Ray’s service but he was unable to access them on Ray’s PC.   They were undoubtedly there, somewhere.

Shaun, I and another mutual BT friend, Graham, had taken all the photos that day. Ray had asked Shaun and Graham to be the unofficial snappers to mark the occasion.

When I arrived home I immediately plugged in the (technically dated but efficient) external hard drive that we bought some time back; it is the size and weight of a hardback book. Luckily it was the work of a few moments to locate the files.

An hour or so and a few phone calls later, Ray’s son Kevin had installed the sharing program, Dropbox, on his computer and we were able to quickly and easily share the images – not only those that Shaun and I took but also Graham’s folder, which was also on our drive.

I will freely admit that I am somewhat pedantic about keeping my pc backed up – but most of us have had an occasion where we have lost work or images … and that particular disaster is so easy to avoid!

In themselves, images are transient. Each one represents just a moment. Just a fleeting expression, an imprint of that second of being that person in that place at that time.

Collectively, a group of images can tell the story of a day, a week, a month or a lifetime.

The sequence of images gives us the timetable of events, and provides a feel for both the people and the places.

Images are one dimensional, but the stories they tell are not.

By sending the images across to Ray’s family, I knew they would share both smiles and tears as they looked at moments of that special day. But the precious nature of such snapshots should be respected and they need to be cared for. Just like the memories they represent, if they are safely stored, they are with us for ever.

In a similar way we retain the imprint of the existence of those who have left us, and they live on in our hearts.


Ray and his family: Elsa, Karen and Kevin

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