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It was like breathing life into the past

Discovering unseen photographs of his late mother and mother-in-law helped bring their stories back to life

After losing his mother in January and mother-in-law in April, Pete Thomas, 59, from Tunbridge Wells, unearthed several shoeboxes and envelopes stuffed with photographs dating back to the 40s, 50s and 60s; many of which he had not seen before.

Most were very small, black and white but perfectly preserved, so Pete wanted to make sure this part of family history was protected and could be shared far and wide without damaging the original prints.

Looking at them I realised there were so many unanswered questions which I didn’t get the chance to ask my parents about. They included a picture of my dad’s brother – an uncle I had never seen before (he passed when I was young). I thought it was sad that some of these images and their stories didn’t get more attention when my parents were alive, it was such a missed opportunity.” Pete explained.

I didn’t want that to be an issue for my family, so I decided to digitise my own album collection. With my photos, I felt it was fine to recycle the albums from the 80s to the early 2000, as the digital memories captured everything and were so much easier to share than the paper originals."

With his family’s roots in England, India, and Malta, and with some living overseas in the US, Australia and New Zealand, he concluded it was better to bring the archive to life and share them now, while many of those in the pictures can pass on their recollections behind these family events, irrespective of where they live.

He researched several digital scanning services who offered both digital scanning services and an online sharing platform. Pete said: “I wanted a ‘white glove’ service which would treasure my old photographs and look after them properly, whilst recycling the less precious ones responsibly. When I spoke to the business owner, I knew they would do just that."

reLOVE Photos, is a company that scans paper photos into digital format which are then made available in a cloud gallery for owners to share online. They send you box, a with labels for secure tracked carriage back to their lab. You can specify if you want your precious originals kept and they will be returned the same way.

As the photographs can be shared online, they stimulate conversations and deepen family relationships wherever they are in the world.

And if your relatives aren’t so Cloud savvy, Pete says: “You can just WhatsApp them a photo. I do that with my aunt who is 93, and lives in Scotland, and she’ll tell me what the occasion when she was out with my Mum. It’s like a direct link to the past, and if I don’t have any news, I can always share an old picture.

"Now we’ve got a great shared family archive of over 5000 photos, and I’m not leaving any work for my family as their own archive is already online and their favourite social media platforms. on social media.”

If you want to share moments and memories, having images in an online cloud gallery can really breathe life into the past, bringing history back to life,” Pete concluded.


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