One of my all time favourite memories in my childhood was visiting my Grandmother's house. She lived in Balwyn. (As we ourselves did also, my children becoming the fourth generation to live in her house.) I used to love visiting her suburb, lined with evergreen trees and old weatherboard houses of a bygone era. It was such a beautiful place to be.
My Grandmother's house was built in the 1920's and furnished in a blend of interiors ranging from the 1930's through to the 1970's. Funky wallpapers met with 1950's rosette carpets framed by casement windows with 1950's blinds and curtains. It was an odd mix but so homely and welcoming.
My favourite pastime as a child at my Grandma's house was to browse her twenty-strong 'antique' photo album collection. These were the heavily bound type with the black card pages featuring hundreds of carefully placed black and white images all mounted with photo corners. I loved the smell of those musty pages; the feel of the starchy cardstock in my fingers as I flicked through the years of my own Mother's and Grandmother's childhoods and the look of the albums in general. I even loved the slightly dusty smell of the old-fashioned carpet as I lay on the floor under those big windows in the sun, (add some dust motes too), while I absorbed the pleasure of those precious images.
And here we are today in the digital age.
Never before have we had such rapid access to images and information. Our cameras travel everywhere with us easily and document our daily lives with a freedom we have never experienced. It is wonderful but it can also be overwhelming.
My first two children arrived on the cusp of the digital revolution. (Actually, the revolution was happening a lot earlier but I was stubbornly refusing to catch on, hoping it would go away.) I was back then, photographing my babies with a real SLR camera that used actual film. My photos were very thought out as wasted shots would cost me in printing paper. As a result I have some really beautiful photo albums of my first babies. The images are specific, easy to recall and identify, precisely because I was so careful with each shot. Looking at these images brings back the memories as if they were yesterday.
My eldest of the boys and second born Ki, aged just a few weeks.
I took this photo with my beloved SLR camera on real film.
Seconds after taking this image, he smiled his first ever authentic smile - at his Dad. (Which I also captured.) They both still tease me about it to this day!
A digital memory from this week - The Embrace.
Toddler busyness in the kitchen. I took many photos of my baby exploring this week. Will I delete some? No way!
Go ahead! Take as many pictures as you wish and don't hold back - this is the digital age and you can always edit them later. (Good luck with that.) I don't know about you but I couldn't possibly delete any photo of my baby eating mushy peas for example - even if there's 20 of them that are almost the same image. Each one might have the slightest variation of expression on that little face and I just couldn't bare to lose it. Babies grow all the time and change. I am not parting with any memory there. (Ok, I draw the line at blurry - they are always erased - unless they're especially cute...)
These days after I have filled a memory card to the brim and uploaded it onto my computer, I do not erase the memory card so that I can re-use it. Memory cards are cheap to replace. Treat them like the storage disks they are and store them. (Think of them as modern day negatives.)
I place each memory card in an envelope and write a brief outline of what pictures are on the card. If you also choose to do this, keep it somewhere safe and away from extremes of weather. Memory cards will not last forever. Expect several years of use if you re-write them constantly. They will keep longer if used in a single episode as I do. Countless times having this system in place has been invaluable for school assignments when the kids have needed specific images fairly quickly.
Invest in a hard drive. Hard drives allow you to store a massive quantity of information in a compact unit which is portable. Back up all of your images onto one of these. You can buy hard drives for less than $100 or more depending on the size of the storage you require. Really, every person who owns a computer containing any valuable information at all, should be using one of these.
Display your images in an actual photo frame. Seems silly to write it here but these look beautiful and homely around any abode and give you that instant gratification whenever you lay your eyes upon them. Target and other home wares stores often have great and inexpensive multi-frames or frame packs which give you some fantastic and easy display alternatives if you are not too confident at designing your own.
Invest in some canvas photo wall prints. Making your own fantastic wall art with your own images couldn't be easier. It is surprisingly simple to do online. (Give Photobox a try for starters.) Just upload a photo you love, choose your canvas size for your intended wall space, tweak the image to your requirements and check out. Within a couple of weeks you will have a beautiful and quality piece of art for your wall featuring your favourite image. I have bought several of these since we had baby number six and I have stopped visiting professional photographers where we used to buy similar at exorbitant prices. I have to say, I am a lot happier with my own images too.
If you haven't got the time or the funds to constantly make actual photo albums, try making a photo book online. I have made several of these easily and quickly online and they are really inexpensive too. I have amassed a collection of hardbound photo books which look so professional and give you that same sense of joy that can be gleaned from those photo albums of the old days. Photo books come in a variety of sizes, cover types and page designs and it's all up to you how creative you'd like to be with them.
Have you tried a digital photo frame yet? I haven't bought one and I used to laugh hysterically at the idea several years back. Lately, I have changed my tune and I might even admit to the fact that I am seriously considering one. Digital frames allow you to display many images and will store hundreds, constantly streamed to you on display. There's even an Instacube which wirelessly streams your Instagram pictures in real-time and at three times the screen size of a smart phone. These are definitely something I will be considering gifting myself in the near future.
Try making an actual photo album! Buy a beautiful acid-free album, some photo corners and hand-mount your very special images for all-time keeping. Make a project of it so that it is not a dull undertaking if you're sitting on billions of images like me. There's some great ideas on Pinterest for going even further with your images like scrapbooking.
Make sure your real photographs are stored correctly too. They should be kept in acid free conditions and not under plastic. My children's kindergarten images always arrive in plastic sleeve albums. Remove the pictures from them as soon as you receive them however to avoid damaging the photos in the long term. As bothersome as it seems in our busy lives, make sure your memories are sorted fairly quickly into long term preservation methods when dealing with actual photographs. Cool, dry and dark conditions are best.
My goal ultimately with my images, is to have the very best on display or in books for immediate daily enjoyment. I will hold onto the excess images too for one day I may wish to find something extra special hidden amongst the multitudes. They are our special memories and a record of our family's everyday history and I will move through life with them around me no matter how inconvenient that may be.
How do you store your best family images?
Are you an image hoarder like me or are you ruthless and cull?
Have you got a special way of displaying your memories you can share?
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