Just about all of us have boxes of old family photos or slides lying around. Over time, not only do the photos fade, but often we forget the stories behind the pictures. This is becoming even more of a concern in the digital age. Apparently, the great majority of photos shot never get downloaded from our phones or cameras.
One Upper Falls business started up to try to help families with exactly these issues. EverPresent – founded by Eric Niloff and his wife back in 2012 – has 30 employees who help people restore old photos, slides, and films, assemble and categorize digital snaps, and then curate these into meaningful collections. This may mean photo books and slide shows for specific events (weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc) or it may mean a cloud-based digital archives of photographs.
Eric and his wife stumbled into the business through their own experiences, working with a collection of more than 10,000 photographs he found at his 91-year-old grandfather’s home in Florida in 2009. The photos represented an incredible anthology of family history. There were photos of his grandfather serving in the Canadian military during World War II, photos of him at medical school, and photos of the hundreds of family gatherings that occurred in the decades following.
The company started in the former Needham Lock & Decorative Hardware space on Chestnut St in Newton Upper Falls and has now also grown to a new processing facility in Watertown.
As a sidelight to the profile above – and my own reason for wanting to write it – we recently did our own family history project because of just such boxes full of photos.
Retired five years ago, my father has been spending much of his time pouring over his parents’ and grandparents’ collections of photos, property deeds, family bibles, and the like to determine the family’s origins and story here in North America. He has now scanned dozens of photos and figured out who is in each.
He’s also traced the family back to Hendrick Kip who first came to North America in about 1637, part of the wave of Dutch settlers who came to a settlement known as Schraalenburgh in present-day Bergen County, NJ. (The settlement was part of the broader New Netherland colony in New York and New Jersey, all of which would be taken over by the English a few decades later.)
The exercise has brought many surprises (the surname “Steele” actually comes from an Irish ancestor – a link we didn’t know we had!), and each new document and photo is a story waiting to be told.