Memories and Mementos

“What are we going to do with all of these pictures?”

“What pictures, which ones?” I replied.

“All of them: all of the pictures, photos, albums, frames, paintings, prints, just everything.”

Well, I hadn’t given it much thought, but really, what are we going to do with all of this stuff? We had downsized and moved from our single family home to a smaller townhome several years ago. In the process of getting that home ready to sell, I had taken down all of our pictures, photos of family and family vacations, and packed them away in plastic bins. Now nearly four years after that move we are still wondering what to do with many of these mementos and memories, most of them still packed away.

When I was younger and first started taking photographs, I concentrated primarily on landscape photography. Years before digital cameras became popular I would shoot slide film in my Canon AE1 and occasionally have enlargements printed, many of which I framed and decorated my apartment. The prints are long gone but the slide film still looks great, beautiful rich colors after more than forty years.

I switched to a digital camera, also a Canon, when they came out and began taking more pictures of family and friends, documenting our trips and vacations, birthdays and holidays. And that introduced the beginnings of what would be a lifelong challenge: how to share and display, or store for posterity, the many, many images a digital camera produced.

When I got my first iPhone I was all set. Whereas before, one had to remember to bring the camera (or leave it in the car, always at the ready) an iPhone was the perfect accessory: I never went anywhere without my phone and consequently my camera was always with me.

Still the problem remained, what to do with all of these images? Before cloud storage enabled us to archive unlimited amounts of data, and images, I would back up my digital images on the computer and eventually transfer them to CDs. Great for storing photos, not so great for sharing them.

I’ve since been uploading many of my photos to Shutterfly. They have sharing options and also print capabilities for cards, enlargements, even photo books. I have friends who use digital frames that act like mini slideshows; the newer frames allow uploading the images to the internet (cloud servers!) and as long as the display is connected to the internet, any family member can view the display. Bluetooth or wifi-enabled devices are another option.

I’ve been printing photobooks now for years. They have taken the place of photo albums in our home. But like albums from our past, they have started to take up room on the book shelves. We visited friends recently and enjoyed looking through one of their old leather-bound albums, many of the photographs in black and white or sepia-toned. One could almost imagine the passage of time slowing down for a bit as we leafed-through and commented on their old family photos. It doesn’t feel quite the same when you scroll thru endless images on your phone!

I still don’t have a solution for the boxes of photos and albums we have accumulated through the years. We have thought about scanning all of the “pre digital” images. I am a little distraught over having lost or misplaced the CDs I used for “safe secure image storage” in the past. I have found several of the CDs I created have not held up well: the data has either become corrupted or otherwise unreadable. Perhaps storing the images on a DVD would work better. At some point I will probably upload all of our images to Shutterfly or some other third party service. I’ve put many images on a small external hard drive, not sure if that is my final answer yet or not.

What about you all? Is this a problem you have faced before? Any possible solutions you have tried successfully? If so, please share your success stories in the comments below. Love to hear from you!

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