I love family photo albums. Growing up in the 70s and 80s everyone had them. Our lives were preserved into windows of time bound in vibrantly coloured spiral bound vinyl. Birthday parties, family camping trips and Christmases and the big occasions of life were lovingly captured. I love looking back and searching for the details of growing kids, changing fashion, and beloved family pets.
Family photo albums are important family documents that remind us who we are and where we came from. They provide context and history. When you first start committing to a new relationship don’t you always want to see your partner as they were before they met you? When I learnt my husband used to have very long hair I really appreciated my sister in law saving a photograph of him from back in those days. It’s hard to imagine now.
Pulling a photo album together in those days was such a different process. Due to the cost of processing film most occasions were restrained to a roll of 24 images. Taking them to the chemist or photo shop and waiting sometimes a week to see the results was often agonising. Ripping open the paper envelope to reveal the printed photographs was an especially tense moment filled with dread and delight. Inevitably there would be several blurred shots as well as some amazing images to be cherished forever. We would lovingly place 3 or 4 of our favourites into a photo album, lifting the plastic cover sheet and sticking the photos onto the sticky back pages. We would then flip through the older photos to remind us of the context of the photos. And good times past.
My mum has been reorganising our family photo albums into a book each for me and my brothers and I can’t wait to show my kids and talk about the photos and events they hold. I am sure they are going to have a lot of questions. Yikes. But it got me thinking,
How will we look back on our family memories?
At last count we have taken over 25,000 photos since our children were born. They are just over 2. I can’t imagine sitting down trawling through that many photos with them. And the thought of doing it myself is giving me a headache already. But I am going to do it because I think it is important. What do we have if we don’t have shared experiences and memories? Not a lot I would argue. Photos aren’t everything but they do capture a shared moment in time and are a prompt for further memories.
Beyond special occasions – capturing the everyday
These days we are lucky because we can easily capture the every day goings on. Before digital images snaps were reserved for more special occasions. I think being able to curate and document a combination of both big and small events is an important part of recording our family history.
The question is, how do we pull this into a document of sorts that is meaningful AND digestible? Simply throwing thousands of images on an online sharedrive is not a solution in my opinion. My first instinct is to start building physical albums that we can thumb through and return to again and again. But I’m not sure yet how I will organise our special moments.
I’m going to start documenting my photo organisation and album building journey here so hopefully others can learn to get themselves out of a similar mess or ideally avoid it completely!
I’d love to hear your tips and tools for managing your photographs.