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Snapshot Photography and Highgate School’s Collection
Elaine Woodbridge has been a volunteer archivist at Highgate School for the last two years working on the school’s photographic slide collection and other projects. Elaine has been fascinated with mid-century slide photographs since she began collecting them more than twenty years ago in South Africa. In her journey with old slides, she has digitised and creatively edited them, shared them on social media, made art and given public talks about them.
Found photographs have an enthusiastic following in popular culture where people do everything from collecting, blogging and making art with them, to trying to reunite them with their original owners. The snapshots of yesterday have also influenced mainstream photography and given rise to new aesthetic traditions. They have great creative potential and have been used by artists in a myriad of ways. But they also contain an intimate and important record of people’s lives and society in past decades, as well as the worlds of work and education. Elaine has read widely on this subject which finds itself at the meeting place of technology, history, popular culture, fine art and archives.
Elaine is completing a Masters degree in Archives and Records Management at the University of Dundee and previously studied Archaeology, Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Cape Town. She is not averse to scratching around in flea markets and dusty drawers for lost photographs. Elaine was delighted to be given the task of working with Highgate’s slide collections, showing school life in the 1960s and 1980s, which she says is a treasure trove of surprising images that open a window on decades past, and is a valuable component of the school’s archive holdings. She asks what we can learn from them and how to understand the collection against the backdrop of British vernacular photography.
Elaine will discuss concepts of snapshot photography and offer behind-the-scenes insights into caring for and archiving a slide collection, covering storage and preservation, copyright and digitisation. Her talk will be illustrated with stunning images from her South African collection, as well as those of Highgate School. She will comment on the value of the collection for bringing to light the school’s changing education technology, built environment and way of life. The 1960s to 1980s was a period on the brink of great technological and digital change. It is a world still cherished in the living memories of many parents and alumni.
Join Elaine Woodbridge online on September 26 to hear more about this intriguing topic and see a glimpse of life at the school back in the day.