Let’s get physical

Charles 1 Comment


Once upon a time photos were physical things that you gathered together and painstakingly stuck into an album. Nowadays, our photos are virtual — digital — and we merrily scatter them across our social media. Photos used to accumulate. Not any more, they don’t. The result is that the memories they evoke become fragmented among many people and easily evaporate. 

The selfsame technology that encourages this willy-nilly scattering also enables a community of people linked together on a social network like Facebook to act collaboratively to bring their photos, with their memories, together in a compilation that can be shared as a pdf or  a physical book. 

Take an example. Lots of people go to a wedding. They blaze away with their smartphones and cameras, then post the best on Facebook. All very fragmented and transient. Photosharing software enables one of these people to ‘author’ an album of the wedding by asking everyone to contribute their best photo/s together with a few words of text. The compilation album can then be shared digitally or fed through to a printer and made physical. 

There’s a growing number of photosharing outfits out there. I’ve been talking to one of them, PastBook, about compiling an photo and tribute album when someone dies, enabling the dead person’s scattered and fragmented social media community to contribute a photo and a few words about them to a photo album which tells their story — and which can then be browsed on the web, downloaded as a pdf or printed as a book. 

PastBook has now developed an In Memoriam app and trialled it at the Salon Funéraire (the big French deathcare expo) where, founder Stefano Cutello tells me in an email, “We got picked up as the most innovative company of the entire fair!” Read Stephano’s blog post here

Anyone can use the PastBook app to create an album. It’s all free — but you pay for the physical book. That’s clearly where they make their money back. Prices are reasonable, starting at under a tenner for a hardback book containing 24 photos. 

PastBook has rolled out a white-label version for celebrants and funeral companies so that they can provide the service under their own brand and domain.

It’s not at all easy for us addle-brained oldies at the GFG to get our heads around this sort of stuff, but we do our best for you, all in the cause of duty. We’re not in any sort of commercial relationship with PastBook, obviously; we don’t do commercial. But if you think the concept is one which is likely to take off, you’ll probably want to check it out. The video at the top sums it up. (We had to watch it a couple of times before we got it.)



  1. Charles

    Excellent find – there’s something about holding photographs in your hand and passing them round as you hold them, feel the paper, remember the moments they represent, that is so beautiful – as if you somehow touch the memory itself. You see people smiling and crying and looking into each other’s eyes as they hand them on. I love this idea – it goes hand in hand with what Rachel Wallace produces: “Memory Books which clients find a great comfort and help in healing their grief, giving them something to literally “hold onto” after the event.”

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