Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Picture Problem

As I have been sorting and sifting through our stuff one thing has become very clear. We have too many pictures. I have uncovered boxes and boxes of loose photos, photos in frames, photos of people I don't know, and photos of people I wish I didn't know. (Just kidding about that last one.) Some of these pictures are interesting bits of family history, and worth keeping a record of. For instance, this is my great, great, great (keep going a few more generations) grandmother, who was a Chippewa Native American.




Some of the pictures I have come across are gems, like this one of my dad with Karsten and Kellen. This is one of my all-time favourite pictures of the three of them.




Some discoveries are less than pleasant. There's not much I can say about this next one, other than it is amazing I'm not emotionally scarred. The 1960s were a scary time.




Of course all of these were taken in the Dark Ages Before Digital. I have come up with a solution that fits in with my theme of downsizing. This weekend when Rebekah and Anton come up, Rebekah is bringing her camera and skills, and she has promised to take pictures of all the photos I want to save. I will then load them onto my computer, and the physical copies are going into the garbage. Her "pictures of our pictures" will be much better than these poor examples in this blog post, which were taken with my iPhone. In fact, they should be pretty close to the originals. And much more space efficient.

"It is possible to own too much. A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure. "

Lee Segall

38 comments:

  1. As part of our down sizing my husband has scanned all our photos, it has taken him ages but we now have an empty cupboard that used to house the photo albums. We have saved them on a hard disk and also on a cloud drive. I was not very keen on it to start with, but we all look at the photos much more often. I love your family photos including the one of you!
    Sarah x

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    1. Great minds think alike! Although, these aren't our family albums from when the kids were small. These are old family pictures, and misc. loose pictures that got shoved in boxes. The family albums will have to wait until after we move. But I plan to put many of those on the computer as well.

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  2. hahaha -- yeah, the 1960s WERE a scary time! every time i see that picture of me with a flip, i get a little shiver. but you were adorable. :)

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    1. If you think that look was adorable I think you might need to book an appointment with the eye doctor. :-) I was always so jealous of girls that had flips.

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  3. I don't know why you are worried, you should see me at a similar age, my mother used to perm my hair!!!! Great fringe though!

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    1. Perms were something I never had to endure. I guess it was one of those instances where having a non-fashion conscious mom paid off. Ha!

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  4. We too are thinking about putting our old photos onto the computer, there are so many. However I know it makes sense to bin the actual photos - but ......I just don't think I'll be able to when it comes round to it. I'm my own worst enemy! Love those pictures of your ancestors.
    Patricia x

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    1. Maybe you could put the photos away for a year after you switch them to the computer, and by then you might feel okay about getting rid of them. If you aren't planning to move out of your house any time soon there's no rush.

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  5. I love seeing these old photos! You were adorable. We have scanned a lot of ours ourselves, but if you have a huge number of photos (like we did, literally hundreds of loose photos thrown into bags and boxes, from both sides of the family), you might want to consider sending them out to a company who will scan them for you and send them back with a disc containing all the photos. It's a little pricey but it was worth it for us because it was becoming a real job to scan them all due to the sheer volume we had. Just an idea if you're finding it too stressful or time-consuming. :)

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    1. When I do the photos in the albums from when my kids were little I might pay to have someone scan them. I would feel totally overwhelmed by the job. The pictures Rebekah is going to do are misc. ones given to me by my mom, and also some loose ones we had stuffed in boxes that never made it to albums. Isn't it amazing to think that now whole albums can be on something as thin as a disc? Good for you for getting yours dealt with!

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  6. I love those old photos. Your great, great, great grandmother looks beautiful. So, Chippewa Native Americans look a bit like Latino rather than Asian.
    I think the photo is very precious. I wonder how they met and fall in love. It had to be a great love story. I wonder if she spoke English at first or not. The photo deserves the best frame and care.

    After my mother passed away, I too downsized the volume of the family photos. She had too much. We are lucky to be able to store digital images of them and share by many people.

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    1. I really wish I knew their love story Keiko. Unfortunately it was lost through the years. Perhaps I should make one up!

      Yes, we are lucky to be able to store things digitally. You probably had the same problem with your mom's pictures as I am having with some of these - having no idea who some of the people and places in them are!

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  7. LIke Sue's, my mother was a believer in the perm too. :(

    Great pictures!

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    1. Maybe be should do a poll. Which hairstyle was the most popular - the perm, the flip, or the bangs? It's funny, but nobody has mentioned the feature I hate the most from that picture, which is the glasses.

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  8. Oh, these are fabulous photos!
    One suggestion I'll make regarding moving photos to digital media is after you've burned them all to disc or uploaded to the cloud, make another copy and put it in a safety deposit box or other safe place. If the disc that you look at is damaged in any way or a server somewhere fails - which happens to the best of us - at least you'll have a back up. It sounds like a lot of bother, but is better than losing the entire digital record of your family's history.

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    1. Great suggestion about putting a disc in the safety deposit box - thanks! I double back-up all my computer stuff, but you are right. bad things can still happen.

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  9. I have an almost identical pic of me with THAT haircut and THOSE glasses.. ha!ha! Did you ever have your mom make 'kiss curls' with your 'sideburns'? Egads.. that was scarring for sure!
    My mom wants me to take her huge box of pics and store them for her when she moves into a retirement home.. a little overwhelming-- what to do with all those pics!! Is it difficult for you to throw out the originals?

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    1. Ha! Okay, you have to bring the picture to show me when we go out to Starbucks on Thursday!

      No, it isn't hard to throw out the originals. But keep in mind these are not the albums from when my kids were young. I don't know if I would ever throw those out. And also keep in mind I am in a throwing out frame of mind. I told Jay he would be lucky if I didn't get rid of him too before we moved. Ha!

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  10. Those pictures are all pretty amazing. All of them. My wife took on a project a few years ago to scan pictures we found at my dad's house. She spent many hours working on it. But she made the mistake of keeping the photos and the flash drive (on which she'd saved the scans) in the same leather case. Someone stole the case from her car.

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    1. Oh no! That is a horrible story, Rick. She must have felt sick when it happened. So much work, and then to have someone steal it. Worse, to have the original pictures taken too. :-(

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  11. Sounds like a big job, but a great idea - I love photos and can spend a lot of time looking through old ones!

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    1. I think they will be easier to look at once they are on the computer. They never were looked at in the boxes, which is one of the reasons I decided to do this.

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  12. If you know who they are, please document names and details. When my husband's grandma got dementia we packed up her belongings. As she was the youngest in her generation, there was no one left to ask about the boxes of photos that had no organization, no names, etc. It was a heart-breaking decision, but lots had to be thrown out.

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    1. There are definitely going to be some that have to be thrown out, but not too many. The old pictures from my dad and grandma that are in albums (those aren't the problem pictures we will be putting onto the computer) have, fortunately, been labelled. The problem is that some of those names mean nothing to me, and now that both my grandma and my dad are gone I will never know the story behind those particular names. I'm sorry you didn't get a chance to find out who many of the people were in your husband's grandma's pictures.

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  13. That's a great way to keep the photos without having them take up all that space! My husband's been borrowing a photo album or two every time he visits his parents so he can scan in all the pictures for them. I think they're planning to keep their albums, but now they have something like 40 years' worth of photos on rotation in their digital picture frame. It's really cool to watch and it's a good conversation starter too.

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    1. That is a great idea to do them just a few at a time. And having them in the digital picture frame is a brilliant idea! Just think of how often they are being looked at now, compared with before when they were just in the albums. This is just my first step in getting photos on my computer. Once I move I need to tackle all of our own family's albums. I might try your husband's approach of doing just a few albums at a time. Thanks for the idea!

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  14. We've been through the same thing and scanned our archive of photos. One thing I'd say though, especially the older ones, do try and makes notes of who the people are - it wasn't until it was too late and all my relatives were gone, that I realised I didn't know who exactly some of the sitters were and so our daughters aren't going to know as much as they could have.

    As for the 1960s, you could always password protect access to those pictures!

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    1. Unidentified people in some of the old pictures is a problem, at least with all of these loose photos in boxes. Those pictures will just have to be thrown out, with no record kept of them. My grandma was mostly very good about labelling photos though, and the ones she had sorted into albums have names. The thing is, many of the names have no meaning. I realize that I have been guilty of not putting names along with pictures in our own family albums. I need to fix that!

      Great idea to password protect all the pictures form the 1960s. :-)

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  15. I love old photos, Kristie and yours are great. I'm not surprised you hated those glasses. I had some very similar and when I look at those photos now I can hardly believe I wore them and indeed had chosen them!

    Such a good idea to scan photos onto the computer, but do make sure you back them up in every possible way. The daughter of a friend of mine had all the photos from her baby's first six months on her laptop which was stolen and never recovered. No back-ups, so no photos. So sad. :-(

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    1. It seems there are several of us who had similar glasses. It's hard to believe they could ever have been considered to be fashionable!

      I am paranoid about losing the information on my computer, so back it up on a hard drive and to the cloud. Thanks for the reminder. And that is very sad about your friend's daughter's pictures. Hopefully others had some pictures of her baby they could give to her.

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  16. I scanned all the photos I had lying in boxes a couple of years ago. Amazing how many we accumulate! I thought about skipping the ones of me as a child because of the embarrassment, but I kept thinking that somehow my mom would find out and let me have it. No matter how old I get, I don't want to be on her bad side... :)

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    1. You are a much better daughter than I am. I will not be copying any pictures of myself in horn-rimmed glasses. There are some things I would rather let fade into the dust bin of history. :-)

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  17. What a brilliant quote! And I love the photos. My grandmother threw away a lot of our old family photos as she thought no one would want them ... it was such a pity as of course she didn't have copies.

    There are a fair few textile artists out there working with old photographs who might be happy to receive your unwanted photos when the copying's done Kristie, e.g. Kimmie of Art in Red Wagons.

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    1. It's too bad your grandmother didn't ask you before she threw them away!

      What are the textile artists doing with the old photos? I had no idea anyone would be interested in them. I'll have to check out the blog you mention. Thanks!ed

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  18. Hmm. When I was a librarian in a former life, I saw computers as the answer to limited space and budget. It was progress--like microfilm--remember that? We threw out all of the old newspapers after they were put on microfilm. Great--until microfilm became obsolete and the readers were thrown out and then there was no way of accessing all of that old information so the microfilms were thrown out(they also deteriorated over time). Computer discs have a limited physical life too. Please be careful with your family memories. You don't need technology or electricity to look at old photos.

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    1. That's good advice, and I will be keeping all of our family photo albums that are from when my kids were young. The pictures I am dealing with now are mostly from previous generations, with a few old school pictures of my brothers and me added into the mix. I will have them backed up in the cloud and also on my hard drive. I will get rid of them once I have the copies, but I would never get rid of our family photos!

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  19. Oh what I wouldn't give to have a photo of any of my ancestors as old as the one you have of your Chippewa grandma. What a treasure! A few years ago I began investigating my genealogy and was told that my maternal grandma was a descendant of a Cherokee. I looked and looked on Ancestry.com but couldn't verify it. I might just have been family wishful thinking, but I wish I could find out for sure.
    I've done what others here have suggested, borrowed photo albums from my parents and scanned in as many as I could. It was wonderful because the process of scanning them prompted lots of family conversations about the people and stories in the photos. I really need to get back to doing some more of that....

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  20. Love these photos Kristie. Aren't you a cutie, yes glasses and all. It makes perfect sense to throw the original photos in the garbage but I just can't imagine the act of doing that. Did you do it already? None of your children were keen to pop them in a box to keep for themselves? I have the opposite 'problem' - thousands of photos just sitting on the laptop but none in albums....Mel x

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