On the holidays, I received a box full of treasured memorabilia and photographs, some of it dating back to 1900 – even before. The value of this box, to me, is priceless, but it has prompted a complex process. Not only do I feel compelled to digitalize that box of memories, but I feel bound to digitalize and organize the rest of my thousands of photographs, spanning not only my life and marriage, but the lives of my five children.
I know the steps. Scan the photos, tag them, organize them in folders, back up onto a hard drive (or two) and then purge or frame the hard photos that I want to keep. That’s what a full-time organizer would tell me. Simple, huh?
Not so simple.
The problem with a process like this, is how do you digitalize, organize and back-up the emotional piece that goes alongside each memory?
My guess is that everyone will have their own way. Mine involves words: writing, blogging, posting, sharing. A year ago, I attempted this process for one of my three sons. I took the photos from his life, and made a book of them: not a photo book that you buy online, but a hand-made one, that I prepared through the use of a basic digital photography editor (it allowed me to increase the size of the hard copy photos so that I could feature them on a 12″ x 12″ page. Each page would also include carefully created words that captured the emotion of the moment. I included memorabilia, such as a background created from the card people gave me when he was born. Some of the page designs I found online in digital scrapbooking shops; some were free, other’s not. Some of the page designs simply came together naturally.
Once I had a page done, I found a local printer that was equipped to print them out. Then I put together the book that told my son’s life.
With a new year comes the desire to make sense of the old. While you can sort and cull as much as you like to simplify your life, I find the process of creation particularly useful. It allows room for the emotional pieces that are littered with your old photos to also be given a sanctuary.