My mother’s mother passed away 3 years ago. I have never been more shocked by a 90 year old’s death than her’s. We weren’t super close but every time I was in town I would take my kids to go see her. She would get down on the floor and play with them. We would go to the playground and she would go down the slides with them. There never was a more active great grandmother than her.
I thought she would outlive us all.
When she did pass it was very sudden. She was fine. But then she was sick. And then 3 days later she was gone. I suspect she knew she was sick but chose not to tell us. We’ll never know for sure.
After she passed I, naturally, inherited the photos. ALL of the photos. TWO GIANT BINS of photos. And they sit in storage to this day while I figure out what to do with them. But I went through them all. It wasn’t just photos. There were letters and diplomas and all sorts of amazing stuff. But of course it was the photos that sucked me in.
There she is on her wedding day. I LOVE this photo.
We’re in a digital age now. We take photos with our phones 20 times a day. Our cameras are all digital. Everything is online or on Facebook. So often, we don’t print a thing. We just trust that it will always be there. I know that I, as a professional, have all of my photos backed up and backed up again. And I’ve been doing that for YEARS. As in, my first backups of my friends photos when I was a teenager are on floppy disks. FLOPPY DISKS. Do you think I can look at those? NOPE. Then later I backed up onto CDs. I have scads and scads of CDs full of photos. Mine, my customers … tons of them. Guess who’s computer (that’s 4yo) doesn’t have a CD drive! So then I switched to an external hard drive and even later, the cloud. I can still use both of those things. But for how long?
What will your great grandchildren know of you? Will they be able to see your photos?
An excellent example of this just occurred as I was writing this blog post. I went hunting for all of the old photos of my grandmother that I KNOW I scanned into my computer. I can’t find them. The one I posted above is the only one. I looked through my current computer and all of my various back ups and they’re gone. At least I know I have the originals in storage. But what if the digital file WAS the original? How many preserved memories could be lost?
I’m not telling you to keep BINS AND BINS full of images like my grandmother did. Here’s my favorite solution as it’s what I do. I print my favorites for the wall (go big or go home!) and I create albums of the rest. One album per year. These albums are often 100+ pages long! My kids LOVE to look at them. And I love knowing that I’ve got them. It’s so easy to keep track of an album rather than scattered images here and there. I just put them on a bookshelf and they look so pretty.
And of course, when you hire me, I can create a gorgeous album for you too.
So here’s my point: print your photos so you don’t lose them forever. Do it for your great great grandchildren. They will want to know who you were.