I recently placed a post-it note on my computer screen that asks – What do you want your photo collection to look like in ten years?
Although it was meant mostly as a reminder to me, it's now a question I ask my clients as well when starting a new project with them.
In this age of massive digital accumulation, it is something worth thinking about, especially if we believe a family photo archive has value to us, not only in our lifetime, but to those we might consider passing it down to in the future.
Digital photography and all the apps, software and other supportive goodies around it, were originally meant to make our lives easier and more manageable. Hah, how did that work out? Yes, it's easier to take photos, lots of photos, and be way more spontaneous about it, but has the ensuing mess we now call our photo collection enriched our lives or just added an extra layer of unmanageability to it?
I’m not trying to say if it's good or bad, but like many things these days we seem to be going for short term convenience and immediate satisfaction over a meaningful and long term way of curating our family histories.
It turns out we really like taking photos way more than dealing with them, and that’s fine. I think even professional photographers would agree with that as well. But most pros also know that if they don’t edit, organize and protect the photos they take, they won’t be a pro for very long. They may not like the work they have to do, but they understand the importance of it.
So if you are not a pro, you might want to ask yourself, how important is my photo collection? Am I caretaking just a few thousand casual snaps of my life’s events, (as well as those dozens of shots of parking spaces, meals, meals, meals, and an array of subjects that we used to simply write down the info for), or is there something here of value to me, my family, and those to whom I may pass it down to?
If you do think that is something worth preserving and caring for, then you need to be prepared to do a bit of work to maintain it. A lot of apps will sucker you into believing that it can all be done maintenance free, with various combinations of cloud syncing and AI editing, but don’t believe it. The more you rely on their system, the more out of touch you will be with your collection and the events of your life.
Many of us already spend inordinate amounts of time on our phone. Maybe spend a few of those minutes in a more productive pursuit. So here are just a few basics you can start to do.
Edit out the junk
Mark your favorites
What, that’s it? Of course there are a whole lot of other things you can do, but assuming your collection is being safely backed up somewhere, these two things will start you on the road to having a more manageable and curated family history. It will also help you begin interacting with your photos more regularly, and, you can do much of it from your phone, at least for recent and current photos you have.
Building up some good work habits is the best way to introduce some manageability back to your photo collection and your life. Your future You will thank you for it.