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It would be a cold, gray, rainy afternoon. Mom would have spent the afternoon with a rag and a bottle of Pledge in hand, carting around bits and pieces of "mess" in what we always thought was an immaculate home. We would have spent the afternoon playing with Barbies and completing little chores here and there as we were told. At some point, someone would reach to put something back on a shelf, and a hand would brush against a photo album. Suddenly the album would be pulled out, and we'd somehow end up lost in an afternoon of nostalgia. My mom would smile softly as she told us stories about our births, we'd laugh at some silly expression. Mom would sigh and shake her head when she came to an over-dark photo or one with someone's eyes shut and say, "I wish we'd gotten that one."
I miss those days.
I've spent the better part of many evenings recently trying to reorganize my photo albums on my computer. The task is utterly overwhelming. Since my child has been born, I have kept (which means for every one picture I've kept, I've deleted more) nearly 10,000 photos on my computer. 10,000. 10,000. In one year.
I've been going through and deleting more, but I still average about 200-300 of my own personal family photos per month. I live in mortal terror that something is going to happen and I'm going to lose my precious photographs and videos. I don't have the best memory, and these photos are my links to precious moments I might otherwise forget forever.
I know I'm not alone in this. In fact, I would wager that my photographs are more organized and I keep less than the average snap-happy mom-tog. But how are we ever going to enjoy these moments if we don't DO something with them? If I average 3,000 personal family photos a year, then by the time Sweet Pea is 20, I will have 60,000 photographs of her life. Are we honestly going to spend an afternoon looking at them all? If we looked at each of them for only one second, that would take almost 17 hours. And that doesn't even count videos! How on earth am I going to choose some photos for a slideshow when Sweet Pea gets married?
Are we losing something by being snap happy? It might feel like we're gaining, but I know I need to personally find a system that is concise and cohesive enough for me to be able to find and look through my photos in a way that brings me joy. This blog is one of those places, but I know I have too many photos to reasonably print in albums. Am I really going to pull out my CDs?
In case you're wondering, here's my current system. I back everything up always with Time Machine and on another external hard drive made up of iphoto libraries separated by year. I've started going in at the end of every month to delete more extras and upload a folder of the photos onto Flickr. I also make a "Best" folder for the month for printing and memory books. Aren't you tired just thinking of how late at night I stay up doing this stuff? Yeesh!
What do you do to organize all of your digital photographs? Are you a digital hoarder or do you never remember to pick up the camera? I've got some new systems that I think are going to help, but it's going to take a long time to go back and organize everything!