A Picture of my Life

I just spent a happy morning at my computer, putting the finishing touches on a photo book of my daughter’s wedding.  Of course I have lots of pictures of the wedding, which are  either framed and displayed around my house or tucked into a huge photo album I bought especially for the occasion, and I’ll be getting a copy of the official wedding album from the professional photographer.  But I wanted to make a photo book using only the photos I selected, and doing it on-line means that I can easily shrink or enlarge the photos, and rearrange them until I am happy with the result.  Plus, photo books are much smaller and lighter than regular photo albums.  They’re so easy to take along when I’m visiting friends or relatives whom I’m sure would like nothing more than to look at at the photos of my daughter’s wedding one more time.

I know lots of mothers are a bit overly-enthusiastic about their daughter’s wedding pictures, but my enthusiasm (aka obsession) isn’t limited to the wedding photos.  I have thirty-one albums filled with photos, seven scrapbooks with pictures pasted in, and I keep my extra photos neatly labeled and organized in eight separate photo boxes.  I always keep some empty photo albums, just waiting to be filled, including the large one bought for my son’s upcoming wedding.  And just in case my print photos should be damaged in some kind of natural disaster or a house fire, I also have full photo cards in my safety deposit box, and keep copies of the pictures on CDs and stored on my computer.

Oddly, I’m not a skilled photographer and have never owned anything more complicated than a simple point-and-shoot camera.  I love photographs, but I don’t have the same passion for actually taking the pictures.  I think what I love about photos is that they remind me (a person with an absolutely rotten memory) of all that I have done in my life, all the places I have been, and all the people that I have known.  I’ve never gotten the hang of keeping a daily journal, but in a way, my photo albums are my journals.  The pictures in them are arranged in chronological order (of course), so if I’m having trouble remembering something from my past, all I have to do is get out the photo album from that year and look it up.  And it’s amazing how many memories come rushing back when I take the time to look through my old pictures.

Bernard and Martha_0013 (2)

I suppose what I’m really doing with my photos is documenting my life.  The old family pictures of relatives who died before I was even born remind me of where I came from,  and that I am a product of families that have been around for a long, long time.  All the photos taken after I was born chart the path of my life, both the good times and the bad.  (Note to self: home permanents are a really, really bad idea.)  Prominent people, of course, don’t have to document their lives, as others are happy to do it for them.  But for the rest of us, those who just muddle along doing ordinary things in ordinary ways, photographs work just fine.

41 thoughts on “A Picture of my Life

  1. That’s quite a collection of photos and so well organized. We also take and have lots of photos, In books, on discs, computers, etc, though I’m jealous of your organization..:) But you’re right, of course, these photos are a journal of our lives and should be handled, as you have, with care and respect.
    We also have so many VHS tapes, some which I converted to cd’s some years ago and others that I still have to do. You’ve inspired me to get more organized with what I have, including the over 20,000 photos I have on my computer. Or I can just hire you…:) That would be a great side business for you..;)

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    • For you, I’d do it for free! But you know, back when scrapbooks were all the craze (before the on-line photo books which are so much easier), I did hear of some people who would create scrapbooks for other people, for a price. And I thought about that….
      And I know what you mean about he VHS tapes. I finally got most of mine converted when I told my tech savvy son that all I wanted for my birthday was my tapes converted to DVD’s. So he did it for me, until he ran out of DVD’s that would actually read my old tapes. After that, it was a challenge, but we finally got it done. And I can’t wait until the DVD’s are obsolete, and we have to repeat the whole process with something new…

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  2. Great post.

    I was just discussing this with someone today. The age of hundred of pictures that sit in a computer or other storage device untouched or unseen for months and months vs heavy, clumsy photo albums of times past.

    I lost many photos in photo albums in a tragic event 4 yrs ago and since then refuse to buy more. Pictures are now on my computer and backed up in the ‘cloud’ (Google Drive and Picasa). But still I never really look at them. So I’ve decided to purchase digital picture frames, load them up with pictures and give them as gifts for the holidays. In a way this will be another form of backing up my photos while actually having others enjoy them without the cumbersome factor of heavy photo albums.

    A less cluttered house is also quite delightful. ☺

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    • I’m so sorry you lost your photo albums! The possibility of that is why I have those photo cards in my safety deposit box, where they will probably become obsolete. I have given away lots of copies of my pictures to relatives, so I guess I could always get those back. What worries me is that so many of the pictures of my children’s younger years are not yet on my computer, so they could be lost if I don’t get them backed up somewhere. And yes, I’m running out of room for all my photo albums… the cloud is probably a good choice! Thanks!

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  3. I’m glad that you are so organized! I have hundreds of photographs and none of them are organized at all. I also have a lot on my computer hard drive and need to print them out! That will be a huge undertaking. I did at least make a backup of all the ones on my computer! I do love taking photographs though. I’m always lugging around my camera!

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    • The only way I manage the organization is by labeling my photos and putting them in an album as soon as I get them printed. If I wait, I’m in big trouble…. I also store tons of recent ones on my computer, and they are not nearly as organized as I would like. But the sheer number of them defeats me, I have to admit. We all just do the best we can, I think!

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    • I don’t know if it’s effective or not, because the photo cards may simply become obsolete. But for now, I feel that if our house were somehow destroyed, I’d at least have a way of reprinting some of my photos! And going through old family photos really is fun, isn’t it?

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  4. I just bought my first digital camera. The only problem is figuring out how it works. I suspect ‘idiot’ mode will be the preferred setting, although somewhat ironically it’s called ‘intelligent’ mode. o_O

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    • Do NOT feel badly about having a hard time working your new digital camera! I actually signed up for a one-time class to learn how to use mine, and the first thing the instructor told us was that most of the stuff that is on those cameras is completely unnecessary and confuses everyone. I felt so much better after I heard that. Because, before then, I was also looking for the “idiot setting.” The closest I could find was one actually called “easy mode.” But they lied about that….

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  5. Like you, I have a number of photo albums & have always been organized in getting them into albums…until digital photography . Since then, I rarely have photos printed🙁 They are organized in folders on my computer but it just isn’t the same. The task of now printing them seems overwhelming!

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    • I still print them, because I find it so much easier to organize the printed photos. It’s the ones stored on my computer that I struggle with, because my a; (I-Photo) doesn’t always put them into the right order, and I have trouble moving them. For instance, a friend took some photos for me, and lent me her card to put them on my computer. But she started using that card in 2010, so my computer put all those photos back with the others that were taken in 2010, even though they were only six months old. And I can’t figure out how to move them! Isn’t it odd how different things are hard for different people? Thanks for the comment!

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  6. I also love photos and family pictures. I have recently been gifted with photos of some of my ancestors. Evey year I print the photos I want and put them into an album. I am up to the year 2004 in the albums. Even though I am behind, it takes me down memory lane. I don’t totally trust technology. Who knows if the cloud will always be there and working.

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    • Good for you for printing and organizing your old family photos! And I will always print photos, because I also believe that technology can’t always be trusted…it becomes obsolete so quickly! Remember all our VCR tapes, that we now have to transfer to DVDs, which they now say have a limited shelf-life? It’s overwhelming. At least with a printed picture, I can always hang on to it and always look at it.

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  7. Absolutely those albums are your journals. Very much so. I love that you have spares, just waiting to be filled. And, I HAVE HEARD that having your husband do a home perm on your hair is the worst idea ever. Just sayin’….;)

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          • Oh, no; I was the idiot. My husband tried to give me a perm many years ago and it was a total disaster…as in, WHAT was I thinking?!!? He could not wrap my hair in the tiny rollers. Your words brought back that now-funny memory. I never asked him again…imagine that. I did not end up looking like Phyllis Diller, thankfully. I laughed when you thought I thought your husband have you that perm. I meant me and my husband the whole time. Your story brought me all kinds of smiles. 🙂

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  8. I am so impressed, but not surprised by these endeavors of yours. I am not so skillful. I just have a giant box that they are all tossed in! 🙂 Occasionally I have fun sitting of the floor, just leafing through the box and crying my eyes out…. xo

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  9. You’re inspiring me! My son is getting married in September 2017 to his high school sweetheart. I am hoping by then to either have or make the time to do a photo book. Your children are lucky to have a mom who makes time for these things that matter.

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    • Thanks, Kim! The photo books are a big quicker that I thought they would be. The most time consuming part is actually uploading the photos to the website. After that, it goes fairly quickly. And congrats to your son on his upcoming wedding!!

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  10. I’ve always loved family photographs too. I have a large number of old ones that I keep in a box in my bedroom. I’m nowhere near as organized as you are, though. I’m breathless with admiration at the way you’ve got everything set up so that come tornado, earthquake or meteor strike, your photographs will survive. 🙂

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  11. I wish we , Holly and I, were as organized as you with our plethora of photos that live in random boxes. We keep saying we will organize them but it’s overwhelming – after 33 years of marriage – and we continue to put it off. And there’s the 4000 photos on my iPhone!

    Pictures are “discounted” these days because it’s so easy – and mostly free- to just snap and snap and snap. Remember the days when you would buy a roll of film and you had to be very discerning on when to snap? And the anticipation of getting the photos back from the lab and seeing how they came out. As much as I do enjoy the instant gratification of our digital technology there is (there always is right?) some thing to be said and appreciated about the good old days.

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    • I remember those days well! It was so exciting to get the photos back and to see if they were any good. And yes, when we had a roll of film in our camera, we were much more careful about what pictures we took. I do appreciate the digital cameras, but somehow, the photos we have now don’t seem quite so precious anymore.
      And don’t badly about not getting your photos organized. What made it easy for me, is I got into the habit a long time ago of labeling my photos and sticking them in an album right away, so I don’t have the overwhelming task of trying to sort through and organize years of photos. I think I’d continue to put that off, too!

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  12. I feel the same as you do, Ann, about old photos, particularly family ones. I don’t have children so haven’t that element of it, but I do have photos going back to my great-grandparents’ generation. I’m not as ordered or orderly as you, and haven’t properly sorted my photos since I moved here, but many are in albums and amongst others I’ve a treasured album that contains family photos from 1930 to 1955.

    They definitely are a memory-aid, but more than that they keep people from the past from vanishing. Apart from ones of my immediate family, I particularly love the ones of my great aunts when they were young.

    As well as that, I collect vintage photos and postcards… but I’m hoping to do a post, myself, about that some time in the near future…

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  13. Yes, photos do keep memories alive, and keep our family members with us, I think. I am usually a minimalist, but when it comes to photos, especially the older ones of my family and friends, there is just no such thing as having too many. And I collect old post caress, too! Aren’t they cool? I have even framed some of them.

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