A link to our past
It's undeniable that we, humans, like to gather items, collect them, and often enjoy putting those on display. From small decorative items that symbolize a precious or significant memory. To oversized items, like books, pictures or typewriters. They almost always have no monetary value, only sentimental.
An object kept as a reminder or souvenir of a person or event
I can't remember the exact moment when I started collecting mementos. It was around my mid-thirties, but I might have had this inclination since childhood. It all started when I picked up a small object, realized I connected with it and the specific place and time, and decided to keep it. That was the beginning of my collection of mementos.
My mementos have a few common attributes. They are generally tiny, have little or no monetary value, and are old. Some I collected from my family, others I purchased while travelling, and most of them I picked up from the ground. I keep them in a lovely old wooden box for storing expensive cigars. The box is, of course, another memento.
But why do we collect things?
Sentimental value? Things we appreciate from a loved one, a place or a time? Quest? The obsession with expanding a collection can be the driving force behind it? Do we like to decorate and find collecting things the perfect source? Or investment?
Psychologists believe that our need to collect fills a need to control or escape unsatisfying lives. These objects we collect represent a time and place that bring us good memories. We could use them to boost our mood when things are not going well. I know my mood changes when I revisit my collection. I become nostalgic but happy.
I have used many of my souvenirs as photo subjects or props. I love photographing them because I consider them an essential part of myself. They often landed in my tabletop studio when I was working on product photography.
Some are very old and unique, like a French note from 1929, large, colourful and full of details.
Or this old medicine tin box.
But I also have simple items like stones from a beach or a small damaged tractor toy. Or this old tiny glass bottle painted on the inside.
I am working on a project photographing the most precious items I collected. It will take some time to fully realize, as with many of my projects. It will include printing some of these photos, ironically becoming another memento.
Do you collect mementos? Have you used them for your photographic work? Let me know in the comments.
Until the next one,