Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sorting Photos

I spent Earth Hour last weekend sorting through six months' worth of photos on hubby's computer. I still don't know if the embargo on electricity was supposed to include screens as well as lights; I do know that after grumbling all week about the absurdity of the whole idea ("How does sitting in the dark for one hour equate to making 'a big difference'?"), this was a surprisingly compliant way for me to observe the occasion. I picked up the resulting 50+ prints at the grocery store today and spent an hour sorting and putting them in albums.

I've never understood the people who have years of photos lying in stacks around the house. Mine go in albums the same day I pick them up. Every time. No mucking about with special scissors or scrapbooking paraphernalia - I just pop them into the little pockets and I'm done. I was somewhat appalled, though, to discover that the last photos I'd printed featured sand and bathing suits.

The thing is, nothing restores your confidence in your own parenting like sorting through a good six-month block of photos. I am filled now with a lovely, effortless belief in my own propaganda; it is clear to me that I am in fact a wonderful parent whose primary function is to ferry my children from one colourful, stimulating environment to the next. My children spend most of their hours out of doors, digging sand castles and jumping in piles of leaves; when they go inside it is to explore indoor parks and museums, examining tarantulas and climbing elaborate structures made of brightly coloured plush polygons. They are smiling and companionable, my children, pulling the occasional long face, but mostly radiating happiness. They live their lives in lockstep, their heads bent together over tiny projects, their sunburned knees peeking out of denim shorts.

The best time for sorting photos, I feel, is after the kids are in bed, when nostalgia and self-admiration cannot be interrupted by any rude incursions of real life. Bloggers sometimes lament that the act of recording our lives threatens to replace reality with our mythologization of it. In my experience, that substitution is only occasionally possible. Would that it would happen more often.



31 comments:

TEOM said...

"Mine go in albums the same day I pick them up. Every time."

I am such a failure. I sent a couple hundred photos from many moons ago to be scanned in November and have yet to even pick out the ones I want back much less have them printed and put in albums.

susiej said...

A lovely way to spend the time. Since I bought my new camera, I'm finding that the number of photos has increased by dramatic proportions... and it's becoming a bit... overwhelming. I'm getting a little more familiar with the delete button... but still hard.
You are right... you're a wonderful parent! The photos are perfectly delightful.

Janet said...

Indeed.

I only ever sort through new photos when the kids are in bed. I will, however, cheerfully look through albums with one or more of them in my lap, reminiscing about the good times we caught on film. As you so aptly point out, we don't snap pictures of us all on the floor mopping up spilled smoothie, my mouth set in a cantankerous scowl. So, phew, right?

Mad said...

You put them in albums every single time you pick them up?! Mine are scattered all over hell's half-acre. I still haven't refiled the pics I pulled for the bio two weeks back. If I don't act soon, they'll get lost in the clutter permanently.

I like looking at photos with Miss M. She really gets into it and the whole affair requires less effort than reading to her. Plus I can pause more frequently to sip coffee. All in all, it's a thumbs-up activity.

nomotherearth said...

"when nostalgia and self-admiration cannot be interrupted by any rude incursions of real life"...now that sentence right there is why I love your writing.

It takes everything I have to just get the pix off the computer.

chickadee said...

i love putting my photos in albums right away too. it's so satisfying. and my kids have loved looking through all those albums over the years.

jen said...

all mine sit inside my computer, silently and slowly wilting away.

Chaotic Joy said...

I too am a wonderful parent. In pictures. At least the ones I have printed. :)

I loved this Bea.

Lady M said...

Wow - could you come over and help with my photos? I have about 14 months worth that I need to have printed, which I intend to do with the "free time" I have on maternity leave.

the dragonfly said...

I feel shame. *sigh*

Since my son was born last June I've gotten good about sorting the photos on my computer..you know, making a file folder for each day and month, etc.

Still no scrapbooks, though.

*sigh*

cinnamon gurl said...

I figure I've done well if I manage to get photos printed... but albums? On the same day? Sadly, never...

Bon said...

laughing. yes, looking at pictures is a fabulous mythologizing of one's life, history, and parenting skillz. my child has such a stimulating, happy existence - you can tell by his flickr account.

i used to be an album person, until digital pics came along...now my flickr account is fairly up-to-date and pristine, but the boxes of pics scattered uselessly about are just disheartening. something i could do with the bedrest, i suppose...hmmm.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I agree! Looking through past photos, I'm always surprised to see everyone so happy and having such a good time.

Luisa Perkins said...

When I had two kids, my photos went into albums the same day. Almost four kids later, I must admit: I'm a few years behind.

Jenifer said...

My photo albums are the hallmark of my grand parenting too! Since my shower with Papoosie Girl I have put my photos into albums AND I write brief blurbs too. Since Rosebud came along I usually do them in huge batches as well.

All other photos (except our wedding and honeymoon) are in totes in their original envelopes, but kid photos they are gold.

You made me laugh about Earth Hour...we started about 5 minutes late as I was in shower and refused to try it in the dark. I gave myself a pedicure by candlelight. You had your screen on? Hubby would let me boil the kettle for tea! Claimed it was part of the deal.

Jess said...

I am the same way about photos. I order prints of all my best digital photos and then I put them in albums as soon as possible. I am very picky about albums though so sometimes photos have to wait until I've found an album to put them in. In the meantime I organize them all perfectly so that when I get the album, I can just pop the photos in.

kittenpie said...

Good god, ours bnever get off the computer any more, now that we've gone digital. We ate least used to keep a book with the CDs in order, thumbnails in front of them, a sort of for-now scrapbook until I got around to sorting the actual photos and mounting them in real ones (not with all the fancy stuff, but I hate pocket albums, prefer to put them in with corners on blank pages with space for my little notes about them). Pumpkinpie doesn't even have a baby book with photos - she has the one recording what she did when, and a box of memorabilia - a pretty box! But still a box - and envelopes of photos sorted by age until about 1.5, and tehn photos online. Sigh. Some day, some day. Maybe before she leaves home, even. Maybe.

painted maypole said...

i do scrapbook (er, or, I USED to. i"M a bit behind) but I really get what you mean about the act of looking at these pictures, the way we choose to remember how our days our spent. And thanks to the propoganda in our albums, it's how our kids will remember it, too! :)

Karen said...

you are very, very funny & my children are just the same as yours! Of course, I do not remember the last time I put a picture in an album, but when I look back everyone is happy all the time.

Mimi said...

Oh, Bea, it's posts like this that made me fall in love with you the first time. There's nothing I like better than sending my pain in the arse flesh and blood kid to bed so that I can moon over the photos and the calm and fun they represent. Preferably while I'm drinking and listening to jazz. Nothing says self-congratulation like red wine, jazz, and a neatly organized set of iPhoto events ...

Amanda said...

Oh the journeys we take through photos. Pure rapture.

Tina C. said...

too true! i have the same warm feelings when stuffing photos into the album. owen has such an exciting life, thanks to me! he's also so happy and cute! well done us!

petite gourmand said...

I'm all about the iphoto books.
they are awesome.
You just simply edit photos, drop in images and click buy and volia- a lovely hard cover archival photo book.

kgirl said...

cute pics. i don't have stacks of photos laying around because in almost 3 years, i have hardly printed any out. how's that for good parenting?

oh, and we participated fully in earth hour more as a symbolic statement of sacrifice, like, of course we can live without power for one hour (we shut the whole system down). many live without power for way longer stretches, and if we continue to consume like this, we will too.

Omaha Mama said...

I make scrapbooks for my kids. With scissors and glue and paper. It's an artistic outlet for me and the place where I go with a friend serves us dinner and sodas.

I do make an annual photo book on a photo site that they print and send to me. This is for our family album. I've done it for two years now, compiling a year's worth of photos into one neat and tidy 30 page book. Both years, I have noticed how it seems like we sure have a lot of fun. I like how you call it propaganda. That is spot on. It doesn't take into account nearly enough Saturdays spent at home lounging.

Amy said...

Lately I've been ordering the photo books from Kodak...that way I don't even get the loose photos; they are digitally printed right in the book. Easy, easy.

Your children are beautiful, and they look so happy!

Sue said...

My hard drive just crashed, along with the last 16 months worth of pictures. I sent my hard drive in to see if they could recover the data and they quoted me $1,420 just to recover the pictures. SON OF A FREAKING BADGER.

Print your pictures, people.

Magpie said...

I have boxes of photos, and piles of digital ones, and can't ever get my act together. Could I hire you?

Kyla said...

I have a big box of photos from many, many years pre-digital photos. Now, I have a hard drive full of images that I RARELY even get around to making prints of. Once they are printed? They don't make it into albums the same day. I am impressed. LOL.

Stimey said...

This is a wonderful post. I usually have a few month delay in putting photos in albums. I would probably do it more regularly if there were fewer at a time. And there would be fewer at a time if I did it more regularly. Hmmmm. Something to think about there.

Sus said...

Bea: Read this for yourself and perhaps you, too, can have the satisfied giggly experience of being one of your admiring readers. :) Quote:
The thing is, nothing restores your confidence in your own parenting like sorting through a good six-month block of photos. I am filled now with a lovely, effortless belief in my own propaganda; it is clear to me that I am in fact a wonderful parent whose primary function is to ferry my children from one colourful, stimulating environment to the next.