The Death of the Family Album and How One Family is Saving Their Private Memories by Making them Public
The family album is dying. For years, families captured their daily lives on negatives and slides. Snapshots were then selected and collected into books, slide carousels and albums. Photo corners, sticky pages, scrapbooks, and slide projectors were the tools of the trade. The process itself was slow, requiring a camera, film and a lab to process and print. Collectors like Erik Kessels have spent years studying and saving family photo albums – before it’s too late.
“Family or personal photographs are now taken to be shared with everybody whereas in the era of photo albums they used to be much more private.” – Erik Kessels
Yet when faced with the death of the family album, one family is saving their private memories by making them public. From 1950 to 1970, photographers Ole and Anne-Marie Jeppesen took thousands of snapshots of family life, ranging from family holidays to routine events. Their photos, like many family albums, represent the monumental in the mundane, the extraordinary in the ordinary. And now their grandchildren are making many of their family snapshots public in an exhibition called “Retrospective Family.” The exhibition is part of the Copenhagen Photo Festival, which is hosted in Denmark from June 2 to 12.
“During a visit to our grandparents, grandpa pulled out an old slide projector. He struggled with stacks of old dusty slides, turned off the lights and made his voice ready for some storytelling. Although the thought of stories from old days made us utterly bored, the atmosphere turned magical when the slides appeared on the wall. We forgot about televisions and computers; we disappeared into our family’s unfiltered childhood memories. The colors lit up, the landscape revealed itself, and drama lurked behind the ambiguous facial expressions. The experience and the strong visual trip back in time stood clear in our memories long after that evening with our grandparents.” –Liv, Maria and Rikke Jeppesen
Through an artfully curated selection of family snapshots, the exhibition showcases fragments of one family’s history. Despite being amateur photographers, the Jeppesen family created an album that evokes astonishment and nostalgia. The intimate images transport viewers back to a time when family albums were reserved for only loved ones to see. The uniquely personal exhibition is curated by Liv Høybye Jeppesen, photojournalist and granddaughter in cooperation with Mads Greve, photographer and professor.
More than two decades years later, it turns out that these simple family photos can make a mark on others. The Jeppesen family is honored to be given the opportunity to share visual artifacts that have been hiding in their private photo collection. They deeply believe that by sharing their own family archives, they can strongly encourage others to do the same.
We hope visitors will see the beautiful and honest portrayal of the period as we do – and that they will be inspired to find their own old family albums, and bring them out of hiding.
Families who come to see the “Retrospective Family” exhibition are encouraged to bring their own family photos to share. There will be a space dedicated to enabling families to display their snapshots and celebrate their own family history.