Monday, August 19, 2013

Shutterfly Madness

Each summer I undertake an opus...a totally different kind of major project than the ones I wrestle with during the fall, winter and spring.

It's a photo opus.

There is no small amount of anticipatory dread that accompanies this project. You see, I LOVE to take pictures. And, as fate would have it, I have two very willing subjects (and one who has asked never to be featured in my social media stream).

Each year, around this time, I start shuffling through the thousands (yes, thousands!!!) of pictures I've accumulated over the last 365 days.

It's a different kind of editing than I'm used to, and one that seems infinitely more taxing than the slicing and dicing of words variety.

The end product makes my closest friends mutter things under their breath about their own untamed digital photo wilderness.

It makes my children cuddle up next to each other in the living room and ponder the passing of the year (note to self: should probably photograph that). And it makes the person whose photo never appears in my social media stream, smile.

The second two items on that list would be enough of a reason to convince me to finish my yearly dreaded project. But this year, as I sort, click and question why I took 100+ pictures of Child #1 dancing around the Maypole, I realized the real impetus behind my need to complete a teeth-grinding, sanity-questioning type task.

It's an exercise in memory preservation.

When I think back to my own crystal clear moments of childhood, I realize the reason they feel fresh and new like crisp, clean sheets is because often, somewhere there's a photo of the moment.

That doesn't mean the photo stands in for the memory.

It's actually the opposite. The photo is like an entry point to a memory that might otherwise be consigned to that inaccessible brain place where forgotten memories are stored.

My dreaded summer project, the one I put off as long as possible is important because it's my family's pictographic history, like the etchings we scratch on the walls of our modern cave.

They might not tell the whole story, but they're the key that will hopefully unlock all the memories, both good and bad, of young lives that morph into adulthood in the blink of an eye.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My wife sorts our photos, when we actually print them, that is. Digital photos have made it easy to just let them sit on the computer.

jaybird said...

The Husband is our picture guy. He took 850 pictures when we went to Gettysburg this summer. (We were only there for four days, LOL) He drives me and the girls crazy. It's like we have our own personal paparazzi everywhere we go. I was just nagging him about going through all of those shots and choosing his favorites. Not something he takes lightly. He laments deleting any of them- even the really bad ones!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Maybe you could make copies of the albums and give them to your children when they get older; then they'll have something to remember their childhoods. I've never been very good at organizing my pictures, though. I still have stacks of pictures from ten years ago that I haven't put in albums.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

With the demise of film, it is SO easy to snap hundreds and hundreds of pictures. There's no hesitation, no pre-selection, no "I've-only-got-so-many-shots-I-can-take-I-should-think-before-I-snap." Which makes the sorting process more daunting than ever!

Stephen Tremp said...

I like those devices that sit on a table and display multiple digital images. They are a bit pricy but make great Christmas gifts.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

I can totally relate. My husband makes fun of me all the time for the amount of pictures I take. But I love them! :)

Karen Walker said...

Hubby used to be the pic guy, but now I do it as well. I love having a pictographic history to record events. I usually print out as well as keep a digital photo album on the computer. When we do trips, we make a movie, narrated and with music as well. It's fun.

D.G. Hudson said...

I always do the same thing, why not with digital? We are documenting our life much better than our parents did.

Our kids have loved pouring over their childhood years photos (some of the albums they would pull out when their friends came over).

I've given both kids scans of some of those pics - birthday parties, etc. which they post of FB. B'day parties, outings and school events - I was their elementary school photographer and always photographed all their parties and some Brownie camps.

Good luck with the project.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Johanna, I've always taken pictures for memories. And it does help to jog the memory into the full situation. I print them off, now and again, but mostly they are stored. I do have a huge box of print photos--prior to digital--and negatives.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, so true which is what most of my friend do.

Jaybird, I'm the paparazzi at our house :)

NW, I absolutely plan to do that someday.

Dianne, I know! The editing process is what kills me.

Stephen, I've tried those frames, but I prefer putting all the digital photos in a book like the ones you can make on Shutterfly.

Rachel, me too. Total addict.

Karen, WOW. I don't print them. I think that might truly drive me to drink!!

DG, I think the main problem with digitalized photos is there are just way to many!

Sia, mine are stored in prepared albums so that in case we lose one I can just reorder it again...a side benefit to digitalization and photo storing on a centralized website.

Mark Koopmans said...

I still haven't organized "real" pics from when I was younger - because of the Daunt Factor.

But, with our kids, and digital, I backup monthly files onto disc and will make copies for the three boys - one of these days:)

ilima said...

I need to do this so so bad. Ugh. Good for you.

Unknown said...

You do this once a year? I admire you.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Don't remind me! It's been a year and a half since I even printed out any photos. I'd missed the year before that and printed some, which are still awaiting albums. I may never catch up.

Unknown said...

Wow, very impressive! I do tend to snap a lot of quick pictures on my phone, especially since we finally upgraded to new phones with nice cameras a couple months ago, but I'm generally really lazy about organizing them. I've got all of the nice little folders in my Pictures folder, with the years and months separated, but they normally get dumped into "Cell phone pics" with a mental note to section up the pictures later.

The Bookworm said...

I love taking pictures too and literally have bins full of our photo albums. Like you say, its an exercise in memory preservation. I think for me, I obsess over taking so many pics because I have so few of my own from childhood through my teen years.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting ready to print some pictures. We had to clear our desks/cube walls at work, and I realized my most recent picture of the kids was when The Boy was 6 months. He started Pre-K last week.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I always start to go through my old eighties travel and work pics, but with negatives, prints, and slides, all jumbled together, I usually just close the box and stuff it away. LOL.


I admire your tenacity, Johanna!

Lisa Gail Green said...

See? I'm so bad at this! I always wish I'd taken more photos and videos of my kids growing up. But I think I'm doing better with #3. I credit the iPhone, not my improved attention to detail. :D

Chuck said...

Thanks for making me think about the 3000 photos I have put off sorting through. Now I have guilt about that! Good luck with your task.

PK HREZO said...

Love the way you put it! I'm dreading the day I have to do this. except, my pics hevent been printed yet. Oy. I used to scrapbook but writing took over that hobby. I was able to get each child's baby photo album finished and that's it.
Nothing better than going back over those wonderful memories. Sometimes, my childhood pics and a glass of wine is just what the doctor ordered. :)

Tammy Theriault said...

i always love seeing the great photos you take. there are so many memories for you!

A Beer for the Shower said...

It's just cool to hear that you guys actually look at them and reflect on them. I have thousands of pictures on my phone, my camera, my computer, and what do they do? They just sit there collecting digital dust.

Shell Flower said...

I love that picture of your daughter with the mustache. I wish I took more photos, really. I didn't even own a camera during my son's years 5-10, so I depend on family members for those years. Your theory about pictures being the starting point for a memory is so true.