It is wonderful to have digital or printed photos as mementos of times gone past. I value the photos I have of past generations of family. It is interesting to look back at photos of locations taken thirty years or more ago. I love taking shots of all sorts of things I see and filing them away to use as images for articles. However, both digital and printed photos can get out of control and become another form of the dreaded clutter.
I have digital photos saved on my laptop and there are some still on my camera. There are others stored on USBs and burnt to disc. Up in that 'cloud' there are duplicate copies of digital pics 'just in case'.
In my house I have numerous photo albums and some printed photos in scrap booking albums. I also have boxes of odd photos that have fallen out of albums or never been fixed into an album because I was too busy. In my box of family history there are old black and white photos of family members, many of whom had died before my birth. Many photos have no identification on them.
More albums and envelopes of photos moved into my house when my mother died. Many of these photos were precious to my mother. They are of the places she travelled to and people from all sorts of clubs she belonged to. There are pics of her dear friends, many of whom I didn't know.
The thing is, although these were important to my mother, many have no relevance to me. I don't know the stories behind them so there isn't any point in holding onto them.
I have decluttered a number of areas of my life and I have disposed of some photos. Thank goodness I dealt with my slide collection before moving house in 2013. However, there are still so many photos that the task of sorting and making decisions is rather overwhelming. There is the temptation to kick most of them back under the bed or move them out of the house into the shed.
The problem with the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach is I will know they are still not dealt with. Also, when I do want photos from a particular holiday, house or whatever to show someone I won't be able to find them. There is not much point in having visual records of the past if I can't find what I want.
I started the mammoth task of sorting my printed photos yesterday. I will have to tackle it in small stages to get through it. A small reward for each stage completed will help keep me motivated.
As I look through photos I realise I have many duplicates. Some photos are very similar so I am throwing out the ones that aren't clear. If I don't know the people in the photo and no one in my family can identify them I will toss them. Other people may want a few of the photos.
If the people in the photo don't mean anything to me, why keep it? Do I really need a snap of every animal at a particular fauna park? Perhaps a couple of the best are all that is needed. If the visit doesn't matter to me now, perhaps I won't keep any.
The same can be said of plants from my various gardens and pics of beloved pets. I have so many snaps of cats that have been part of my life. Will I remember a particular cat any better if I have fifty pics instead of five or six? Okay, perhaps I need ten of a favourite cat.
Dealing with my photos is making me reassess what is important. I have decided I would like to keep the best photos and scrap book some. However, I will limit the number I attempt to scrap book or this will be unmanageable. I want the process to be fun, not a drag.
Keeping too many mementos of the past can weigh one down but it is lovely to have some. People who lose everything in a fire or other disaster often regret the loss of their photos more than the destruction of items that can be replaced. However, I now believe it is important to limit the number of photos so the collection is manageable and brings pleasure. I just wish I had thought this when I took all those photos in the first place.