Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sorting Photos

Before there were digital cameras, we took pictures and sent film away to have it developed.  I loved getting the prints in the mail, and I saved all the negatives, in case I wanted reprints.  I rarely wanted reprints, but I saved them.

Yesterday, my spouse and I sorted through the photo albums.  We didn't do any digitizing--that's a much more complicated project.  We knew that we had kept all sorts of photos, and yesterday it was time to look at them again.  We haven't looked through most of those albums in decades.

Here are some insights:

--I was worried that the non-archival albums might have bleached the pictures away, but they're still in good shape.

--I use the word "good" rather loosely.  These pictures were never high quality.  It's not like we had parents who gave us quality camera equipment.  We had instamatic kinds of cameras--not Polaroids, not that kind of instant.  The kind of cameras we had took 110 film.  How do I still remember that?  Probably from decades of ordering that film and sending film away.

--Then, as now, I kept every picture.  Consequently, I have pictures of parts of the floor, a window here the side of a car, a strip of floor, all sorts of accidental photos.

--I also kept lots of photos of humans whom I no longer remember.  I dutifully wrote names on the backs of pictures, but those names didn't help.

--I don't have pictures of some of my childhood friends.  I didn't take pictures of daily life, like us playing with our Barbies.  

--I did take pictures of special trips.  I have pictures of Williamsburg taken decades apart, and one is the exact same picture of tools used on the Jefferson plantation.

--We went to a lot of zoos.  We took a lot of pictures.

--We also have pictures, lots and lots of pictures, of trips that family members took without us.  It's not as mean as it sounds--we were young adults and on our own.  We couldn't attend every family function, but we got pictures.  We dutifully kept them.  Now we have thrown them away.

--We did keep a picture here and there, the pictures of our friends when they were very young and sent us pictures of them and their new baby.

--We decided not to keep pictures of every house we've ever owned.  We remember, and no one else will care.

--I look at high school pictures and pictures of me in swimsuits through the years.  I remember when I thought I was fat and when I was dieting.  There are a few years when I was over 200 pounds, but most years, when I felt fat, I was actually quite thin, especially in high school.

--I also look at pictures when I'm at my most fit and athletic looking.  It's important to remember how many hours each day I exercised to achieve and maintain that level of fitness.  If I did that now, I would use up every hour of free time that I have.  Back then, I didn't have to be in an office for 45-55 hours each week. 

--Do people keep photos the same way now?  I realize that most of us aren't printing our photos.  Do we still hang onto them all?  I know that I do--having digital photos makes it even easier to just hang onto everything.

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