This historical ephemera collection represents two of the most important times in my life. We all place significance upon people, places, or moments that we value most in our lives, and if so inclined we may cling to little pieces of these moments. I have kept a number of ephemeral items from these important moments. A ticket stub from the first date with my future wife, another ticket stub and small concert board from subsequent dates with her, and the two hospital identification bracelets worn by my newborn sons make up this collection. The historical value in this collection may range from curiosity about musical entertainment in Chicago in the early 2000’s, and Austin, TX in the mid to late 2000’s, or more deeply, the relatable instinct to hold on to those things which we hold dearest. This is not an exhaustive list…
Creative and Technical Specs.
When approaching my collection with the camera, my overall desire was to create a dynamic feeling to the pictures. Through various angles, and natural lighting, I sought to bring the images closer to the observer, to give them some life. I also experimented with various backgrounds. All photographs were taken with my Apple iPhone 5s camera.
The Blues Traveler ticket stub photo was taken in natural light, like all photos in this collection. The geometric pattern table that the stubs rests on was chosen because of its attractive design which lends some life to the picture. The leaves and dappled lighting present in the photo foster a natural vibe which helped bring out the energy I was trying to capture.
With the Smashing Pumpkins board photo, I particularly liked the contrast of the board’s colors and design to the natural backdrop of the tree. I also liked the shadows captured behind and to the side of the board, which gave it some depth. The angle of the photo was chosen to give a more dynamic feel.
The Austin City Limits Music Festival ticket stub sits in front of a brickwork background that provides nice character. Because of the ticket’s small size, I felt that an interesting backdrop would lend a hand in bringing some energy to the photo. The side set angle and the lean of the stub create depth and bring some energy to the picture.
For the ID bracelet of my oldest son (blue blanket backdrop), I was once again trying to create a dynamic feel in the photograph. The blanket was chosen because of its softer nature and feel, which made sense for a baby’s bracelet. The angle and placement of the bracelet on the blue blanket provided depth and color contrast. The text on the bracelet has faded with age, and a photo close enough to highlight the text would have been so close as to lose the character of the bracelet. It is legible with close observation, and certainly with the zooming capability in a digital format.
The second ID bracelet, that of my youngest son, was placed on his baseball glove. The intention behind this backdrop was to hint at the passage of time. Both of these items have been/are worn on his hand and wrist. The same struggle between legibility of the bracelet and character of the item existed here. I chose to sacrifice the initial legibility of the bracelet in favor of a more artistic backdrop. However, as with the first bracelet, the text is legible on close examination and certainly by zooming into the photograph.
Blues Traveler: JPG, 2.2MB, Size – 2448 x 3264, DPI 72
Smashing Pumpkins: JPG, 3MB, Size – 2448 x 3264, DPI 72
ACL Fest.: JPG, 3.8MB, Size – 2448 x 3264, DPI 72
#1 ID Band: JPG, 3MB, Size – 2448 x 3264, DPI 72
#2 ID Band: JPG, 2.5MB, Size – 2448 x 3264, DPI 72
This collection consists of personal ephemeral items that I have kept over the years. These items range in date from 05/2001 – 09/2010. They are all of a personal nature and retain deep personal significance to my life. The ticket stubs and concert board mark the period of falling in love with my wife and our courtship, in the city of Chicago, during 2001. The ID bracelets were worn by my sons as newborns in the hospital. Both of my sons were born at North Austin Medical Center in Austin, TX between 2008 and 2010. The historical context for these items includes the national tragedy of 9/11. The Blues Traveler concert ticket stub date is roughly 4 months prior to the World Trade Center attack on 9/11/01. Chicago has always had a thriving music scene and the year 2001 was no different. Austin, TX, where my sons were born, was an exciting place to be. The cauldron of high tech industry, world class academics, urban chic, and ranch cowboys provided the backdrop for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. During 2002, when this concert was attended, the war on terror was in full swing and Americans were learning how to cope in a world that had drastically changed.
While these items are of deep personal importance, they may also be of historical significance to others. These items may provide insight into areas such as printing techniques used for entertainment tickets and types of entertainment available during this time period, in Chicago, IL and Austin, TX. These items also provide information on some types of entertainment in these places during these times. Furthermore, if one were interested in learning about increasing security measures at hospitals during this time period, the identification bracelets worn by my sons as newborns can provide insight. Students may also be able to learn history from my ephemera by looking at what the whole collection represents. These specific items are important to me, but they represent something that we all share; human connection.
I think that having students participate in this type of exercise is a wonderful idea. I would re-create the digitization process by doing just what we did. I would love to see my students explore their own lives and be able to produce and share about items that they have attached meaning to. A small change might be to also include ephemera that they could find of significance to their parents or grandparents, and then look for parallels between what they find of their own ephemera. My guess is that they could probably gain insight to themselves and their family, something that is always powerful.