My mom keeps all of the family photos from my childhood in a big tote-like box, and my nan keeps all of the older family photos in albums. One of my favorite past-times is looking through the old photos and seeing my relatives in different times in their lives. It’s truly amazing the amount of photos that my family has taken. My entire first year was documented thoroughly, and it’s comforting to know that I will always have those memories. The pictures stretch to far before my time on earth as well. There is one photo, in particular, that I love. It’s my nan and granddad just after graduating high school; they look so happy. They look positively happy, Nan is even on Grandad’s shoulder in one photo.
On some of the photos, my nan has written the date along with a little caption about the photo. It’s a unique way for me to look into her life, and to see the person she was when my age. Often, we forget that our parents and grandparents had lives before us. That they thrived, that they had careers, that they had aspirations and goals before we were even a thought to them.
There’s something about sifting through those prints, and holding them that creates a connection, and this connection is quickly fading. We no longer print our images. I have a photo similar to the one mentioned above; it’s of my husband and me before my high school graduation. We went to the top of Fort Boreman to take photos. The wind was blowing, and my recently colored vibrant red was untamable. This photo resides on Facebook. If one day my children wanted to see our old photos, I wouldn’t be able to pull out a box, or an old album. No, I would have to direct them to a likely-to-be-outdated social media site, and wish them good luck sorting through the digital clutter.
For me, as a storyteller, this was not okay. It hurt my heart to think that all the pictures of my family were relegated to living on hard drives or social media. I was constantly taking photos, but I had nothing to show for it aside from a well-managed Instagram. So I changed.
My normal New Year’s Resolutions usually focus around being healthier, losing weight or some other body-focused promise. Those usually last around 15 days, and then I’ll pick them up again in the summer when it’s warmer and there isn’t snow on the ground. So, in 2014, I resolved that I would print my pictures. I promised myself that I would capture the little moments, not just large events. I would take a picture of my husband and my mom when they were planting the garden or I would take pictures at the most everyday family events. I would tell our story and preserve it anyway that I could.
As a photographer, I had a hard time learning to take photos that were only going to be for personal use. They didn’t need to be taken on my work camera; I could document life with my phone. This was refreshing. I wanted to focus on being in the moment, and this helped. I also had to accept that printing 200 photos from a professional lab was not cost efficient. I found shutterfly.com has a 200 lustre print deal for $20. The quality pleasantly surprised me, and it allows my now fervent photo printing habit to not break the bank.
Scrapbooking seemed too labor intensive and organizing them into boxes seemed like a good way to form clutter. I decided that an old-fashioned photo album was the way for me. Crafts 2000 has a great selection, so I went there. We purchased a standard brown leather album. The outside is plain, but the inside is beautiful.
From there, we arranged our photos by season throughout the book. I expected it to be a chore, but it was so much fun. We have moved onto our second book now, and the first one sits on the coffee table for guests (or me when I’m feeling nostalgic) to look through while visiting. This album is so important to me.
I implore you to start printing your photos. We are so inundated with photography, and this generation is the most photographed ever. However, if we continue on this path, there will be no prints to show for it. Start printing, and start documenting – your children will thank you for it.