Is this the golden era for photo albums and frames?

about me decluttering essay family organising musings Nov 17, 2022

We recently suffered a catastrophic tech failure. Our hard drive storage failed and died, taking with it about 15 years of digital memories. Poof, gone, just like that. When I first realised, my heart beat a little faster, I asked why, and how, and wanted to apportion blame to someone, anyone. And then an eery calm came over me as I realised that nothing could be done. Knowing why and how and pinning the tech failure on someone’s back wouldn’t bring the photos back, so the most productive option right now was to take stock of what we still had, and where it was kept.   

  • Was our cloud storage intact, and was it syncing from both our phones? Yes, phew.
  • Had we gotten around to making an album of our favourite America trip photos? Yes, thank goodness.

Thanks to Covid (but still … get lost Covid, you suck) our last big holiday was the America trip, 6 years ago. The most significant thing that has happened since that holiday was the arrival of Otis – we have printed a couple of photos to put in frames on the wall, but nothing since he was a baby. To my shame, I haven’t made a photo album for him (it’s now on my summer project list) and I’m sure I’m not alone. We have more photos than ever before thanks to smart phones, and yet something that is very common in my clients’ homes is a lack of printed photos from the last few years. I regularly see dozens of photo packets and albums from 10+ years ago, and often a stack of photo albums and frames purchased with the best of intentions to fill them, but rarely do I find printed photos from recent years.

I remember having a camera as a teenager and the Russian Roulette that was taking your roll of film to be printed. Out of the 30-ish photos, invariably there’d be:

  • at least one with a finger over the lens,
  • several that were too blurry to use,
  • another few completely random pics that seemed hilarious at the time but made no sense 3 months later,
  • a couple of really crappy landscape photos, and
  • a handful of treasured photos of people and places that went straight into the photo album to be enjoyed for years to come.

I still have those albums and I LOVE to flick through them. I test my memory – where was that taken and who the hell is that person? What on earth am I wearing!? Look at my eyebrows!! Ewwww, remember him!!??

The memories and personal history are a feast for my eyes and a song for my nostalgic heart.

So why don’t we print photos anymore, when we know how good it can feel to look back? For me it’s a combination of factors. The abundance of photos, for a start; it feels completely overwhelming to wade through my camera roll to choose some favourites. Busy-ness is the next obvious one. I’m on the go all the time with at least 5 “urgent” things on my list that take priority over a peaceful, joyful project. (Ouch. That hurts a little bit to admit!) There is no urgency, as I have endless cloud storage. Waaaay easier to just keep paying for more storage than having a digital declutter! There are external barriers in the way of printing and displaying photos, like it’s hard to find somewhere that will print photos, and hard to find photo albums that I like.

With the unlimited chances we now have to “take a good photo”, this should be the golden era of displaying beautiful photos to commemorate our experiences and memories, but sadly it is not.

If you’re relating to this post, I challenge you to change that up this summer. Here’s how I’m going to do it while we’re on summer holidays.

  1. Go to the op shop and see if I can find 3 x photo albums. It doesn’t matter what they look like! It’s the photos, not the album that is important.
  2. Choose a theme for each photo album. Mine will all be Otis albums. Otis aged 0-2, Otis aged 2-4 and Otis aged 4-6.
  3. Figure out how many photos each album can hold, then select my photos. Put them into a special folder on my phone so I can easily take the next step (printing them) when we’re back from our holiday.

I want photographic evidence that these years happened and that they were good. I want something for 20 year old Otis and his 56 year old parents to look back on and together test our memories. Who is that Mum? What are we wearing!? Hahaha remember that trip to the museum when EVERYTHING went wrong?!

I hope this has given you inspiration to display some of your own precious memories and in the process, declutter some of those digital files that you’ve been hoarding. I think Future Beks, Jamie and Otis will be grateful for making that happen.

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