Your kids don’t want your old photos. And neither do your friends. They have their own. We have enough old photos in this state to stuff Autzen Stadium many times over.
On the cusp of a new era — aka downsizing — I attempted to gather and sort photos from 50 years of collection, newspaper clippings nearing the crumble stage and even high school publications. I added in those 15-pound college yearbooks as well. What was I thinking with those purchases?
And yet they have all traveled with me across the country. I kept them because I did not want to let go of the possible memories they would rekindle — like a really, really old flame.
And like that old flame, they are no longer welcome in my home; the time has come to let them go.
But wait, I can now store them digitally. I discovered that I can take pictures of everything and store them in the cloud, to access whenever an old memory comes to mind or to see that cute outfit I wore to the Twerp party in high school.
Here’s how I went about it.
First, I researched apps online that allow you to take pictures, edit and store them. I chose Photomyne because it also cleans up and sharpens the image. Bonus — some of the old black and white photos from the ‘60s look better after the scan than before. This made it emotionally easier to let go of the originals. The app is free, but I was so pleased with the result that I paid $20 for a yearly subscription.
All told, I probably went through at least 2,000 photos of all shapes and sizes.
Second, I purged. I threw away bad photos, ones with people I didn’t know or family I had never met. It seems there were a lot of those. As I went on and I honed my selectivity skills, the elimination process became easier. I say this because, once you have the photos you want to keep, there will still be too many.
Third, I decided it would be easier to arrange the photos by time periods in my life. For instance, “before Kim” were family photos taken before I was born. “Obits” was for relatives that have passed away. And then the usual delineation of time, including places we lived, school years and so forth. I inherited photos from my sister and mother, and through this process I found that we were all collectors of memories. I was not alone but, as I am the youngest by far, they all fell into my hands.
I arranged photos on a large expanse of floor along with the above labels.
Then, I rested — for a week.
Fourth, I went back through and purged again. Did I need the photo or the newspaper with the same photo? It got easier.
Fifth, I began using the app and scanning each one, using my phone. I could arrange five photos in one shot and the app would scan each photo separately. So instead of taking five scans, I could do more photos with just one scan.
I got about halfway through my piles and then I rested, again.
What I had scanned went in the trash. This is very important for that is the purpose in the first place. Resist scanning the photos and then keeping them.
If you lived in a certain era you may also have slides. Holding onto these is useless as it’s hard to find a slide projector that works anymore. Luckily, we were able to borrow one from a neighbor. I simply projected the image on a piece of white wall and scanned the projected image into the cloud.
It’s not perfect but I’ve had them for 40 years and not looked at them. I’d rather easily access a bad picture of a slide than move them again. Since I am the proverbial “end of the line” in the family, I have no one to please but myself.
This story has a very good outcome as, not only did I rest many times in order to ponder the meaning of letting go of the physical as well as the emotional (this was a larger issue than I had imagined), I now have all those memories in the cloud and accessible anytime.
Of course, this means I can’t lose my phone. I will cross that digital bridge when I get to it. ☸
(Kim Kelly is an insurance agent in Eugene.)