|Lifetimes at your fingertips|
Is there anything more powerful than a photo? Songs and smells can take me back to a particular moment, even seeing an old movie will stir up times I'd forgotten. Returning to a place from my past evokes memories of good and bad times, good and bad people. But those kinds of memories I have to "see" in my head, having to guess at the color of the sky and the size of the bicycle. With a photo it's all right there. Still right there. Powerful stuff those pieces of vellum.
When asked what someone would take if their house caught fire, the number one answer is still "my pictures" or "the photo album". It's interesting to me that given this common response, almost no one keeps photos in safe deposit boxes. Apparently we want them safe and close by. Photos are very important to us.
Like many traits, keeping photo albums skipped a generation in my mother's family. I have my grandmother's albums, black paper with little glued corners holding each black-and-white photo, description written in white ink. One album is the "baby book" for my mother and her older brother Charles. My mother kept no albums, so the photos of her teen and adult years, along with my baby and youth years, are loose in boxes. I, like Grandmother, kept albums and scrapbooks from my teens through my youngest son's teens.
|Grandmother's "whole blooming family"|
|Mother on her first day of school|
Dad kept an album of his Navy and post-discharge years - more black paper with white writing, but took (or kept) almost no photos in the years following. Most of the ones I have of him are those I took myself.
|Navy buddies, WWII|
|Dad always loved working on engines|
My last purging project - the one I've put off until the last - is all the photos and albums. Both Bill (yes, of course he has them too!) and I did a first sorting last year, tossing duplicates and unidentified subjects, of the loose photos. When I first moved in with him a few years ago I made an album of all his boys' photos, so that made a good dent in his boxes and folders.
|Just part of the "project"|
Still, I hadn't gone through my albums with "a critical eye", and I knew it needed to be done. Because what I didn't do, in any of the albums, was label the photos. Not even with dates :-(. I also didn't use much discretion in the choice of photos to keep. If it came out of my camera, it went in the album. This made for very many pages of sometimes very similar (if not identical) photos of the same subject. It also meant that even if you can't actually see what I was photographing because it was so far away, it still made it in the album.
It was also my habit to order duplicate prints of every roll so I could send my parents photos of their grand kids. Naturally I didn't send them every one, meaning I had lots of duplicates left over. Rather than tossing them, I put them in the ever-growing "box of photos". Why? No clue.
My first plan was to have every photo scanned to disc and get rid of all the boxes and albums completely. Now that I'm actually doing it, I've changed my mind.
Although there is some fading and flaking in the very old albums, part of their amazing charm is the black paper and white ink. Yes, I could take photos of the album pages and save those to disc (which may be necessary eventually), but I'm not yet prepared to give up the "feel" of the real thing. I'm taking steps to preserve each page, as well as the albums themselves, and will store them in a climate-controlled place for now.
After I go through and purge the more current albums, I'll condense them to fewer books and label each photo - and keep them in storage (where the boys can easily access them if they want).
The remaining loose photos will be scanned to disc where I can sort and label them as an on-going project either this Spring or after we get on the road.
|Plenty to put on disc|
|One of four identical pages|
I can sure identify with all of your feelings & emotions when it comes to dealing with old photos as well as all the newer digital stuff. Tossing out photos or deleting digitals is a toughie for sure & if I could discipline myself to do it I'm sure my computers hard drive would thank me profusely.ReplyDelete
I can only imagine how many photos you must have "stored"! Once I get the older ones taken care of I'll have to figure out the digital ones moving forward.......it's always something :-)Delete
You are doing such an amazing job! And you don't have to crazy rush to do it. For me it was easy, but took FOR-EVER! My husband worked for Kodak, so we have triples and more sometimes! Since we have 4 kids, it was like dealing cards. I just made 4 stacks and made sure they each had a little of everything and everyone. I kept very, very few for myself. Off they went into each of the kids tubs that they will get in a few years (or when we purge the storage locker). It was hard to actually let go of the extra pictures and throw them out. Somehow felt so wrong. But we didn't need 20 leftover wallet size of several grades of their school pics. Those cute smiles, it was tough. How is the doggy adjusting to the apartment?ReplyDelete
Thanks Debbie! It really does seem wrong to throw out those extra pics of the kids - but who did we think we were going to give 20 wallet size copies to? And then we kept them for 10+ years! Tessa is doing great although she did freak out when we left her alone on our third day here. I think it was just too soon to feel like home. We'll give it another few days and try it again......Delete
Sorting pictures is actually an awful lot of work. I've scanned a whole bunch but I still have more to do. Like you, I've tossed many out that I had no clue where or who.ReplyDelete
I guess I thought I was going to somehow remember what, when and who forever! It is a big job - I'll be very happy when I'm done :-)Delete
We only kept a few things as we went full time and photos and videos of the kids were some of the most important. We have two large tubs in our daughter's basement. Going through the old photos took me forever but brought some wonderful memories:) It was a great time. Enjoy your trip back in the past:)ReplyDelete
Thanks Pam. I'm sure I'll still have a lot left when I finally get "finished". Now that I have a real plan, I'm enjoying the trip much more!Delete
Oh my, sorting through and making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of -- it is an enormous undertaking, and especially so with photos -- I suppose because they are the likenesses of those we hold dear and memories of special times. Take your time, enjoy the process -- and if you don't mind my saying so, don't take this project on the road! You won't have time, because you'll be making so many new memories! ;-)ReplyDelete
Good point - I'm sure to have lots more photos to stay on top of then! Even the old photos of people I don't know are hard to "toss", so I be sure not to look at their "faces" when I do :-))))Delete
When Alex was young, I made albums. I worked at Longs, got processing (yikes, remember 110 film?) for cheap and albums for cheap. Did the doubles thing too, for the g-parents. After Jessica came along, there was no more time for albums. Sadly, I have many, many processing envelopes, (we advanced to 35mm by then). Now we're all digital. My picture folder has many sub-folders, with even more sub-folders. Eventually I'll be scanning the worthwhile photos into my computer. May just need to get a bigger hard drive just for the photos! LOLReplyDelete
For me it was the opposite with three times the photos of Jeff as a baby then I do of Brian. But I have tons of them together so that's been so fun to look through. I'm going to have to learn about saving digital photos more efficiently then my one huge folder I have now!!Delete
My dad was an amateur photographer and I have TONS of his photos and some of my great-grandparents. I HAVE scanned those and I now have a set to give each of our kids. I need to do this, too, over winter break!ReplyDelete
Cheryl Ann in California
I know I'm going to have to scan the older photos eventually as they will not last forever. I'm hoping it won't be so daunting when they're the only ones I have left to do :-) Enjoy that perfect holiday weather for your winter break!Delete
One of my biggest jobs when purging was the scanning of 7000+ photos, both boys now have flash drives with all of the pictures on them. We have our screen saver set to photos, it's always interesting to see what comes up. Since we didn't get a climate controlled storage unit I knew storing them was not an option, someday I'll have my folks collections of photo albums.ReplyDelete
I keep going back and forth between discs and flash drives and cloud storage.....there's almost too much information on each one :-( Still, I like the idea of the boys each getting a set of the photos - and the screen saver is great!Delete
That is a daunting task! I wish I had scanned old photos before we sold the house because now they are all in my BIL's garage and I can't look back at them unless I am at his house!ReplyDelete
A thought about saving a project for on the road: I am an avid cook and expected to spend time on the road saving my favorite recipes from my personal recipe scrap collection to my recipe software (Living Cookbook)...but in two years I think I've spent exactly one rainy day dedicated to this project. You gotta really want to do the project, really want to drag out the paraphernalia, for it to take up a rare rainy day... That's my two cents!
Access is definitely another incentive for me to get it done. I watched the movers unload our three trunks of "precious items" into the back of my son's storage unit and thought "I'm going to really want to see that stuff badly to pull it all out from 'back' there!" I'm thinking a small bin under his bed might be the best plan for the remaining photo albums.....we'll see what he thinks of that idea :-)Delete
You and Laurel both raise a good point about on the road projects......I'll have to rethink getting that piece done before we go!
Pete and I got into scrapbooking for a few years..way too much to take with and thus they sit in a tub in the garage. Throwing photos out no matter what sure is a hard thing. Now those old black and white pictures are worth holding onto in my book! Good luck JodeeReplyDelete
Thanks Maura! With all the interest in genealogy these days I keep thinking there's some "place" I could send the old photos I don't want to keep. They are pretty amazing :-)Delete