I remember when our third daughter was born. I made a promise that I would NOT get behind in cataloging her life in pictures. I was a lukewarm scrapbooker at the time, but had completed documenting all the photos I had in my possession (the proof is in all the numbered scrapbooks in our storage room!). It wasn't even six months into my daughter's life when I acknowledged that I had set myself an impossible task.

Taking pictures has changed dramatically since that time. What first started as low resolution photos on flip phones has turned into high quality pictures taken from phones, easy-to-use editing software, and the ability to take a fantastic photo without much training at all.

It has also changed how we view our past. As much as I love to pull out a scrapbook and look at memories of when our kids were babies, those things are HEAVY! They also take up a lot of space. I can guarantee that none of our kids are going to want to haul six giant bins of scrapbooks into their first home.

With both the good and bad sides of digital photos, we have the practical problem of what to do with all of those memories that came before. When I work with clients, especially those of an age where downsizing is necessary, there is a mighty struggle to deal with hardcopy pictures. What to do?

Here are a couple of practical suggestions.

  1. Keep them. Who cares if you have boxes of photos in your basement? Just don't forget to enjoy them once in a while, and ensure that they are stored properly to avoid damage by moisture and humidity.

  2. Bequeath them to a family member. I was the recipient of the collection of photos from my maternal grandparents, which are safely and securely stored in a labelled bin. I have been asked by relatives to access certain photos or information, and know right where everything is. Perhaps there is someone available who can do such a thing for you.

  3. Have them digitalized. There are many local and national organization that provide this service. Check their credentials and reviews first, as you are trusting them with precious cargo that is irreplaceable. They will take your hard copy photos and old videos and convert them to a digital format, either for use or storage.

  4. Purge them. Array the whole collection of photos in front of you. Chose those that are special to you in some way. With these pictures, you have several neat options.

*Have your photo put in to digital format, either by yourself, or through a service. Then, convert that image into something special. We have poster size black and white photos of my great great aunt at an old tavern and my grandfather outside our family cabin. Place these in black frames and use as decor in your house! We also have color poster size pictures of our children, one of each, in our stairwell. They make us smile every time we look at them.

*Have your photos made into magnets, coasters, book covers, a calendar. There are SO many possibilities!

5. If you and your family has gotten to the point where you don't care to have these

pictures in your possession any longer, purge any that include identifying

information. A date isn't harmful, but home addresses in the background or names on the back make these photos a prime target for use in identity theft. SHRED THEM.

6. Still left with a box of photos? Donate. Area historical societies love original pictures

that hold meaning to their community. Call ahead (don't just drop and run), and see if there is an interest.

7. Sell. Many artist, both local and online, love to use old pictures in their artwork.

Don't expect to get rich doing this, but price to sell and let someone else enjoy that photo of Aunt Edna in her swimsuit.

Our photographs capture joy, love, family, and even heartbreak. They are a visual reminder of who we are, how we live, and those with whom we surround ourselves. Any way you chose to have them in your lives, make them meaningful, useful, and easy to enjoy.

Here's to YOU. Say, "cheese!"