“Let us save what remains: not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.” ― Thomas Jefferson
I often wonder what will happen to all the photos on my hard drive. Will they one day be a nagging thought in my children’s minds, like my piles of old, unorganized photos are in mine, begging for someone to display and tell their stories once more? (Except, for my children, it will be all the worse since there will be so many more photos, because with digital who needs just one shot when you can have five oh-so-subtle variations?)
Or will my hard drive be like a virtual time capsule they can’t wait to open and find treasures from family times in years past?
I like to hope that my children will love having a visual history of their childhoods. When I was a child, I loved going through photos of my sister and me. Though I’m pretty sure my memories were actually warped by the photos. Do I actually remember the trip to Disneyworld when I was four and my sister threw a tantrum because she wanted to ride in the stroller with me, but she was too big? Or do I remember my mom telling me the story once while looking at the photos and I internalized it as my own memory? Even more curiously, why were my parents pushing me around in a stroller when I was four? (Yes, my husband and I may be living under an illusion that our son will happily walk around a giant theme park all day without assistance sometime before his fourth birthday. 🙂 )
It was nice to have evidence of places we went and things we did as a family. One of the best pieces of advice my dad has ever given me is to make sure there are people in my photos. “No one will want to see vacation pictures of the Eiffel Tower. They want to see you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower,” he explained before I went on my senior trip to Europe. At the time, I didn’t understand. (I may have had dreams of being a photographer for National Geographic and National Geographic photographers did not take cheesy tourist pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower). But now I do.
And I understand all the more, since it’s so important to me to document our family moments for my son. In addition to all the adorable shots I take of him, I also want him to see moments with his dad and me. I want to give him a glimpse of who we are in this time of his life. Now that I’m a parent, I often think about my parents and who they were when I was growing up. Having photos of them from that time in their lives makes me feel closer to them somehow.
We all change so much with time. And there are many ways to document and appreciate our family histories, whether it’s through photo albums, videos made on a cell phone, or blogs like this one. Jefferson may not have been referring to preserving family history, but I find it just as important as any national treasure. And I hope that having these photos helps my children and, someday their children, know where they came from and who their family is and was.
I also hope that I will be able to organize these photos in a way that my children and their future families can enjoy. Without an inner voice nagging them to do something with all the stuff on mom’s old hard drive.
How do you document your family? Any tips for staying organized? Motivated?
Inspired by the Daily Post prompt.