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.
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.