That look...

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

There is only one better way to spend a rainy afternoon than looking at family photos from decades ago – scanning them into a computer.

That’s what I did for the most part of a recent weekend and stumbled into something very special. All of those pictures tell a lot of special stories, but a handful deliver a message-in-the-bottle sort of message.

The decades start rolling before my eyes. I used to be young. I had a mustache for a short time, although longer than my wife would have liked.

Scanning photos is a great way to recall the past, and at the same time make sure that those “Kodak moments” turn into never-fading zeros and ones.

When you think about it, this is the best way to go retro. It’s all positive. Smiling faces, happy kids, What a life.

After all, why would anyone take a picture of a sad moment and put it in an album, only to be scanned decades later onto a hard drive?

Snapshots reflect happiness. Sadness fades as the years go by.

I see the kids being born, Disney Land, camping, mountains, big cities, relatives who have passed away, graduation, birthday parties, friends who have come and gone. I see a young man starting a career, and a beautiful young woman who decides to walk through life with him and grow old together (although not that old yet).

I am engulfed by memories, hour after hour. I notice things in the pictures that I missed earlier.

Then it happens. I look at the monitor, magnify the faces. I can’t get a handful of photos out of my mind. I stop the scans and bring them back on the screen.

It’s that ... look.

That special look that cannot be faked or posed. It cannot be recreated or acted. It has to be felt. It’s that look that says “forever.”

As I scan more photos, I keep coming across ... that look.

A snapshot freezes a moment in time. We pose, smile, make faces. Often, the moment is lost, the meaning forgotten. But not this time.

Without getting too direct or sappy, I can’t stop looking at ... that look.

I stare because it is soothing and feels good. It reflects decades of feelings that followed – happiness, satisfaction, security, closeness, the future.

It says, let’s enjoy life together, help each other through the rough parts, be best friends, be soul mates. It says, I am turning all my cards face up. It shows vulnerability, strength and confidence all at the same time. It shows total trust.

It’s a message in a bottle that has been there all along, but now it is highlighted and valued even more.
Everybody gets these type of messages. They exist in some way or form.

I scanned about 300 photos from several albums. The family pictures are now safe and sound, even backed up and duplicated on a flash drive, in case all of the computers crash at the same time.

After I am long-gone, those special family photos will survive, if not in the albums, then on the grandkids’ iPods, or whatever they will use by then to store photos.

And, perhaps one of the grandkids will look at those special photos and see what I see.

Maybe he or she will then say: “Look at that ... look.”