That’s my message today for you all.
Print out your photos!
(And maybe even organize them, too)
Some of you probably already do. Some of you are avid, faithful and artistic scrapbookers and family archivists. I bow down. I stand in awed shame before you.
But a lot of you might be like me. I got out of the habit of printing photos a couple of years ago, and when it comes to those I’d actually had printed over the years…well, seriously…about twenty years of photos had been tossed, piecemeal, into boxes over that time.
It was a mess, and I decided that before we moved, I had to do something about it.
And going through the process of moving – which means, in part, going through my parents’ and grandparents’ things that I have here – only deepened that conviction.
Because, of course, their photos were all printed, and almost-neatly put into albums. I say “almost” because my mother’s albums had fallen apart, and part of what I did this week was to collate her photos, my paternal grandmother’s photos, and my maternal aunt’s photos of me and put them all in one album. Not because I’m donating them to a museum or anything, but because just as I’m interested in childhood photos of my parents, my children are and will be interested in photos of me – when they look at me as a child, they’re trying to understand something of themselves.
To get that organized is an act of love.
Even more so, the photos of their own lives. It was a task I’d dreaded because it was such a mess and at some point in history, most photo processing outfits seem to have stopped putting dates on the back of photos – the exception being Wal-Mart, and I thanked God every time I came across of those. You might say it should be easy because, well, kids do look different from year to year, and yes, that’s true. But sometimes there’s a fine line between 1995 and 1996 and even 1997 and everyone kind of looks the same, so one of my little organization boxes is labeled “1995-1997” because I just gave up.
So most of those family photos are organized in this system and now my next major task is to organize all of our photos from last fall’s trip. I’m up to mid-October, all of those, I’m putting in albums, along with little maps of where we went as well as ticket stubs and so on. It’s a chore, but we do it together and it really helps bring the lessons – history, art and life – of the trip home.
And I eventually had to remind myself – okay, take that time you’re spending watching videos like this and catching up on Breaking Bad gossip and just do it! For the children!
I’m pretty convinced that at some point, all this digital stuff is going to vanish. First of all, formats change. I have disks of mine and Mike’s writing that are, of course, on floppy disks and on some ancient form of word processing – Lotus, maybe? – that are as inaccessible as the Rosetta Stone before they cracked the code. What’s the point of keeping them? None. A good lesson in the ephemeral nature of life, really.
I don’t think digital image files will become unreadable any time soon, but in thirty years, when your sweet babies are grown ups and might actually have an interest in their family history…will they be then? Highly doubtful.
And what if…what if our kids don’t have any of these kinds of photos? What if all they have of themselves are their school portraits and maybe a print or two that was good enough to frame? What of all those goofy candids we’ve got stored on our phones and can never…just…seem…to take care of in any permanent way? What a shame if they don’t have them for themselves, their own fading memories and for their children….
So, with a mind to the future…print yo’ pictures. It’s a pain in the neck, but most acts of love are.
(Um, and I don’t get fancy with layout. Obviously.)
Well, maybe they shouldn’t have printed this one…