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FishNet Blog #2: "Snapshots of Memory": What Could Have Been

by Kathy Donaldson News

FishNet Blog #2:
FishNet Blog #2:

It was a difficult task to choose just ten photos out of a list of over sixty candidates for the “Snapshots of Memory” exhibition. Anna, our Digitisation Project Officer, writes again about the process of selecting the photographs that got displayed, while reflecting on those that were shortlisted.

Before even searching for photos, I made a rough list of categories I wanted to represent: • The harbour: This was the most important category, as so much of Anstruther’s history is tied to the sea. I wanted to reflect the harbour’s evolution, as well as the development of the boats within it. • Local landmarks: Places that are easily recognisable today or something that has a history attached to it. • Ordinary buildings and streets.

Once these broad categories were selected, it was time to choose photos to represent them. Right from the start, the images needed to do three things: look good, tell a story, and have the approximate spot where they were taken be easy to access today. This automatically eliminated any photos that were taken from high up or were difficult to locate. Sadly, this meant this dramatic view of the harbour, lined with a full fleet of steam drifters, had to be replaced with one that shows only a partial view of said vessels. The trade-off was a good view of the eastern half of Shore Street.

The rejected harbour image (left) versus what is on display (right). Though both look like they were taken from a height, the one on the left has a more extreme angle and no good view of Shore Street

The view between each photo in the exhibition could not be too similar. For example, the image of the harbour below was also considered for this spot, but it looked too close to the image of the ‘Reaper’ and ‘Research’ also on display.

Another rejected harbour image (left), versus the photo of the ‘Reaper’ and ‘Research’ on display. Though the subject matter is different, the view is very similar

Occasionally, I would come across a photo that was perfect, with a beautiful view, taken from a spot I could instantly place on the map, and a story to tell. Only one thing stood in the way: copyright. As the photos were to be reproduced and publicly displayed, anything that was not copyright of the Fisheries Museum or did not have permission for us to reproduce was out. This was the case with the photo I originally used to represent the streets of Anstruther, as well as an image of the sail boats.

Once the categories were established and the easy ones pruned out, it was time to be selective. Because I had the idea for the walking tour, I wanted the locations to be reasonably close together. Sadly, this meant eliminating this picture of the bathing pool, which I wanted to use to talk about Anstruther as a holiday destination, and an image of the bathing boxes was used instead.

Bathing pool west of Anstruther, where the golf course is now

Cellardyke provided me with both several good photos and difficult choices. Specifically, I was torn between a photograph of the Town Hall and that of the harbour. Though the harbour photo is beautiful, and easily recognisable today, I felt that the narrative around the Town Hall fitted the theme of change that runs through the exhibition better, and I could therefore write a better story around it. I also wished to avoid the repetition of only showing harbour and waterfront photographs in the exhibition.

The photo of Cellardyke harbour that was sadly rejected.

This was also the case with the image I picked to represent Anstruther Wester. One option was the Dreel Lodge, but as before, I personally felt that the Dreel Mill’s story tied better into the theme of change, and I wanted to have some photos in the exhibition that were not on the shore itself.

Dreel Lodge

Often, it was the simple case of what would synchronise best with the rest of the photos. For example, both photos here show the Mercat Cross and Stephenson Memorial, but as I already had a view of the eastern half of Shore Street, so I chose the one that would show the western half.

The photo in the exhibition (left) versus what was rejected (right)

It is no exaggeration to say that Anstruther is rich with history. Some photographs were deliberately selected to highlight as many stories as. Such was the case of the image of the ‘Reaper’ and ‘Research’ (see above), which had Chalmer’s Church in the background, allowing me to talk about both.

Sometimes, however, a better image presents itself by chance. My original image of the lifeboat shed showed a lifeboat launch. It was fine, if a little old and blurry. While looking through our database during my other duties, I found an image of the ‘Fidelity’ with a great view of the lifeboat shed and the North Carr Lightship, which I had wanted to talk about but dropped due to a lack of suitable photographs. It is this image that made it into the final exhibition, and I think it’s a great improvement.

What was originally planned (left) versus what the image chosen for display (right)

Hopefully you enjoyed this fascinating insight into how “Snapshots of Memory” came to be. It is still open in the Merchant’s Room of the WAVES Café until the end of this month. We shall also be holding a talk by Kevin Dunion on the 26th of April on the related theme of everyday life in Anstruther. Click here to book a place. We hope to see you there!


The Scottish Fisheries Museum Trust Ltd
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