Friday, August 6, 2010

20 Years of Photos

When Older Son was born in January of 1986 we took pictures of his every move. We made prints for grandparents and sent prints to various friends and family. We felt we owed it to them to let them see the cutest baby ever born.

We also dutifully put those pictures in albums to preserve for years to come and for, you know, posterity and that type thing.

When Daughter was born in November of 1988 we took pictures again. For the first girl born to my side of the family, it was important to document all those frilly little dresses and bows. We put a few of those photos in albums but stopped at about six months.

Then life got busy with two little ones. We still took plenty of pictures and had them developed, but they got put in drawers or boxes so we would put them in albums when we got around to it.

When Younger Son was born in October of 1992 we took a few pictures but not anywhere near the amount taken of his older siblings (this is something he will have to one day sort out with his therapist -- he can send me the bill). We recently had to submit a picture of him as a baby to put in the program for the upcoming football season, something that is done for all the senior players.

That sent me to the “tub.” Not the bathtub, but the rubber container that, I am embarrassed to tell you, now holds the pictures that were taken from mid-1989 until the present. When we moved from Little Rock to Nashville in 1997, we had all these boxes of photos and I don’t even know how they got packed and moved, but somehow they did. Soon after moving we bought the plastic tub, with a lid, and dumped all the pictures in there for the eventual sorting and placing in albums.

One day about twelve years ago I tried to sort the ones that had thus far accumulated, and even enlisted help from the rest of the family. We started on the dining room table and had the best of intentions, but eventually the photos went back to the tub, along with new additions.

But it’s over, friends. The tub has been opened. I am tackling this and I will finish. It might take a year or it might take longer than that, but I am going to finish it. These photos are going to be put in albums in as close to chronological order as I can get.

Getting them in that chronological order is the tricky part, of course. Only a handful of them are dated. For the vast majority, I am required to look at sizes of children (and parents), how much hair I had, whether or not I had a moustache (I shaved in the summer of 1998 after 14 years), numbers of candles on birthday cakes, houses we lived in or hair and clothing styles, and from there make as good an estimate as possible of when the pictures were taken. They are first being placed in accordion folders marked with a year. When that is complete, the album placing will begin.

Although tedious and time consuming, the project is not altogether burdensome. There is a certain element of fun and nostalgia in looking back at all these photos spanning 20-plus years. After about an hour, though, the tedium sets in. I have to take baby steps.

With the advent of digital photography, where we can view the photos instantly, we have far fewer prints made. They tend to stay in directories on our computer. We have had a few of those books made by Shutterfly or Apple. Of course I have not done it, but Wife and Daughter have been able to figure out how to send the photos and a few weeks later have a book of them sent to our home. The photos are scanned right onto the page, on quality slick paper. That seems like perhaps a better way to go than printing them out and ending up with all these prints as we now have.

Of course for the more organized among us, who have conscientiously placed photos in albums and have even made lavish scrapbooks (not at our house), none of this presents a problem. Alas, neither Wife nor I are among those, which is why I must now retroactively try to piece together these past two decades.

Wish me luck . . . .


Debby said...

We've got boxes of pictures artfully arranged in boxes under our bed.

Okay. They're actually just stuffed in there. No organization at all. It's one of those things I've always meant to do...

Kelly said...

Good luck, Bob! I hope you complete everything you want done before you lose interest.

Being the youngest of four kids (and you know what that means in terms of photos, memorabilia, etc.), I made a vow that I would do equally for mine. I did a pretty good job of that.

I was good with the granddaughter her first year, but digital photography has taken its toll. I seldom print photos anymore.

Pencil Writer said...

Oh the mountain you're climbing! I'm with Debby. My husband and I keep looking through the myriad boxes of ancient photos--over 40 years worth now--if you include our dating period!

When we get through with this detective work, do you think we'll qualify to work for CSI or the FBI? Naw. Probably not, but kinda in the ballpark? Like left field?

Bob said...

Forty years????? Oh my, I can't wait 20 more. It's bad enough as it is now . . . .

Pam said...

Good luck indeed!! In all my cleaning and purging that's one collection of boxes I've not even attempted to tackle!

I also have a number of CDs with pics of my grandsons from over the years. Not too long ago the boys and I had fun revisiting them. All 3 boys were here at the time and it was a hoot!!

Pencil Writer said...

Bob, if you conquer your mountain (bin) of photos as you are working to do so now, you'll be so organized with all your new photos on the hard drive, it'll be a piece of cake to handle the next 20 year. Have fun! ;-}