I am a woman possessed. It started when I decided to organize, label and post the best 589 photos from our Alaska/northern Canada trip on my website for all our friends and family to see (because, you know, there’s nothing more interesting than looking at 589 pictures from someone else’s vacation!)…then I decided to do the ones from last year’s trip to Alaska…then I decided to sort through all our digital pictures and post the best family ones…and well, then I just couldn’t stop! Now I’m going through our entire collection of digital photographs (eight years worth)…labeling them the best I can and uploading them to my website.
Why in the world did I decide to take this on NOW? I don’t know…I guess because I thought I had the time (who knew it would take THIS long to sort through thousands of digital images???), and because it’s a real pain when Junior High Kid comes to me ten minutes before he has to leave for school and says, “I need a picture of [fill in the blank] for school.” We’re not like regular people. We don’t have a nice collection of family photo albums. Most of our photos (ALL of our photos from the last eight years) are digital…and they’ve never been printed. Or organized.
I do have an album of regular wedding photos. And I have three albums of 35 mm photos that begin when College Student was born and end when he was six (and Junior High Kid was one). Most of those photos are not what Junior High Kid is looking for when he has to bring a photo for school.
I have very few photos in between our wedding photos and College Student’s birth because…well, we had no money and we just didn’t do anything interesting enough to document in photographs. I have a big box of photos in my closet that span 1995 into 1999. I’ve hauled that box out during Christmas vacation the last three winters with good intentions of going through those photos, spreading them out and putting them in albums. I even bought the albums. And that box used to be two boxes, so I have made some progress. But every year I get so overwhelmed with the job that I eventually give up and shove the box back in the closet.
Our digital pictures have been sitting on our server for the last eight years. Nobody has done anything with them (though at least with digital photography, you have the advantage of a date associated with each image…unless the date on your camera is wrong…which, I’ve discovered, it was sometimes). I’m moving into 2004 now, so I’m more than halfway done with my project. I CAN’T STOP! I’m still not doing any writing (this is the longest break I’ve ever taken from my writing — and I said that a few days ago, too!)…I’m practicing my mandolin, doing all the other things I need to do throughout the day, and organizing/labeling/uploading photos. I am truly possessed. It’s a good thing I don’t have any deadlines right now…though I do have to turn in that sequel to Do You Know the Monkey Man in January. If I’m not done, we can probably blame this photo project. It’s been all consuming!
As much of a pain this has been, I have learned a few things. 1) I’ve learned my kids actually enjoyed our camping experiences more than they think they did. The pictures don’t lie! 2) A photograph is so much more than a glimpse at one brief moment in time — a photograph shows who you are and where you are in your life. For instance, through cataloging all these photos, I can see that 2003 was the year my husband was the most stressed at work. It’s IN the photos! And 2004 is the year my dad REALLY went downhill. He actually looked pretty good in the first couple of years after his stroke…oh, to have him back like that again! And yet, my mom had such a hard time dealing with the fact my dad had this major stroke (she still can’t deal with it eight years later!) that she stopped taking pictures. I’ve never known anyone who took as many pictures as my mother…yet she completely stopped with the family pictures the first few years after my dad had his stroke. She does not have these pictures that I have from Christmas those years…I’m sure glad I have them.
I’ve also learned that life isn’t lived just in the big moments…the births, the birthdays, the holidays and the vacations. Life is really lived in all those moments BETWEEN the big moments…and I wish I had gotten out the camera more for the day-to-day stuff rather than just the big “photo moments.” But it’s not too late to change that…