Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Looking Back

A couple of years ago I had the grand idea to do something amazing with old pictures, and informed my mother that I had to commandeer all of our family photos that have ever been taken since the beginning of time.

She reluctantly gave them to me, and they have been sitting in my office in bins since then.

I have done nothing with them, except maybe to look through them once in a while.  To reminisce.  To make a collage for my Grandfather’s funeral.  To post embarrassing pictures on Facebook for #ThrowBackThursday, an ongoing social media project that serves to show people you know now who you were then.



For a lover of history like me (okay, a sentimental fool like me), these photos are important.  I like having them close by.  I like seeing little me smiling within a three-by-three square, wearing satin mouse ears and a pink tutu.  I like seeing pictures of my brothers and I choosing a movie to watch on videodisc.  I like looking at my parents’ wedding photos, snaps of me and my cousins listening to Granddad playing the fiddle, family pics of my Grandparents, Great-Grandmother, my dad, aunt and inexplicably, a cow.

When I was a kid I spent hours looking through those old pictures.  There were hundreds of them, millions it seemed.  I would paw through unfinished albums and piles that were stuffed into the drawers of the highboy in the living room, searching for one I hadn’t seen before.  I never found a new one. When I look at the two bins in my office I realize that there weren’t that many to search through.  Three hundred photos can fit into a small album.  I can get through those old pictures in a couple of hours.

My husband and I have maybe a hundred photo albums.  Before we even got married we had several, filled with pictures of just of the two of us, our families and friends.  At one point I was afraid that they might overtake our home, even in this digital age where piles of real photos are unnecessary.  The albums kept filling up.  He was the photographer in our home, and the task of selecting photos to edit, print, and put into albums was his.  I preferred to live our moments, not watch them happen behind a camera.


Now we have so many photos stored on our camera, in our phones, on tiny digital cards, and in our kids’ iDevices and phones that to try and catch up with them would take several days.  Maybe weeks.  “Organize photos” is a regular entry on my to-do list, my husband giving up his job long ago.

I don’t know if it will ever happen, or if I even know where to start.  Maybe someday I’ll get to it.  Or maybe we will be one of those families where the albums peter out after a few years and newer photos are just thrown into a box or in a few drawers, left for our kids to rummage through on a day when they’re feeling nostalgic.  Or maybe they’ll never be printed out, left on tiny SD cards to be lost, erased from damaged iDevices and phones, or languish forever in The Cloud, whatever that is.

Anyway, I’m keeping the pictures of my past for just a little while longer.  I like having them to look through once in a while, to remember who I was before I became who I am.  Someday, hopefully soon, I will do something with those old pictures.

I’m just not sure what.

*******


What do you do with your old pictures, digital or otherwise?  
Do you have any suggestions for me?  If you say scrapbooking I'll scream.

14 comments:

  1. I love old pictures so much.
    All of my childhood pictures are in bins at my parents home in Tennessee.
    11 hours from here.
    I wish I could take an entire day looking through all of them.
    But I can't because we don't get to see each other that often.
    We are going down on Friday, maybe I will lose some sleep and spend some time looking through old pictures.

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    1. Just steal them and let them clutter up your house for a while.

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  2. I loved looking through old photos of my Dad and his family, when I was a kid. All those black and white photographs, carefully and lovingly added to albums one can hold in one's hands. I think I want to ask my aunt (who's keeping them now) if I can have them.

    As for my photos (all digital), I have them organized by month for each kid. And they're backed up. I know, I am SO PARANOID ABOUT LOSING ALL OF the photos and videos.

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    1. Wow! You are very good. By month? We did dated photo books for a long time. The past two years we just kind of fell apart, and I don't know where we left off.

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  3. I'm sort of in the same boat right now since the Great Clean and Purge Project. We have photo albums full of photos...and then we have boxes and envelopes full of the ones that have yet to make it into an album. The digitals on my computer are in no sort of order whatsoever. We inherited photos from each of our moms when grandparents died in recent years and those need to be incorporated into our own messy collection. Sigh. Daunting.
    I do have some cool things to share, though - one thing my Mom did after her parents both died was to get all of her photos (the good old fashioned prints) and have a local photography place put them all on DVD and then each family member got a copy. Awesome. My stepmother also made a similar collection for me after my Dad and his mother both passed. Now. Those DVDs are both in a box waiting for the Fab Hub to hook up my digital picture frame and load them, but still. The potential is there.
    One of these days, I'll actually start the sorting and organizing...

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I would love for someone to put all my mother's photos on a DVD for us! And maybe all of ours, too.

      It actually makes me feel relief that I'm not the only person whose digital pictures are just a jumble of IMG files. Thank you!

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  4. This is a hard subject. As a photographer, I'm not a good photo organizer. I will say that your sweater in the first photo is AMAZING. I hope someone still has it?

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    1. Ha! Thanks. Nope, no one kept the rainbow shirt for me. I'm sure you could get one online, though. xo

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  5. Dude. My pics are SO terribly unorganized. (besides what I scrapbooked in the early 2000's, don't get mad at me!) And I have a slew of ones I stole from my parents. I used to love to go through the 2 big boxes of photos they had from "the old days".

    I know there are great programs/ways to organize photos but I'm in such a hole right now that I wouldn't even know where to start...

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  6. We just had a family reunion at my parents' house (in Palm Desert California in July - I'm thinking maybe my mom and dad were hoping no one would show up but everyone did) and it was marvelous.

    But my favorite part was the slide show, made by my cousin Eric, that included pictures beginning with when our grandparents were newly married and through the births of their 8 great-grandchildren. All four of the sets of aunts and uncles were in there, too: their baby pictures, engagement pictures, pictures of pregnancies and newborns.

    My cousin has a sense of humor, so he featured the awkward shots heavily...which was awesome. We laughed until we cried and then my sister pointed out that because of the digital age, a lot of BAD shots get deleted now. We keep clicking until we come up with a shot flattering to everyone.

    This, I think, is a little sad because the most FUN we had was snorting at the outtakes.

    Anyway, I have completely hijacked your comments-section basically to share how much I loved my reunion and our family pictures. Long live the awkward family photo.

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    1. I love going through old photos, too. The ones at my Grandmother's house are my favorites. I almost remember those snapshots as well as I remember the ones my mother has of us, I've been through them so many times. The awkward shots are the best best best. We have several of those in our family that are legendary.

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  7. I have my family's old photo albums. Like you, so far they have mainly been used for Throw Back Thursday. In theory, at some point I will do something more meaningful with them. It is nice to know I have company.

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    1. Thank you for confessing that, Tammy! I won't lie: the more I hear of people being as inefficient as I am with their old photos, the better I feel about life in general. I mean that in the nicest possible way. ;)

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