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Where Do All The Photos Go?

This fall my mom and I went to Winterthur (well worth the visit if you are ever in the Wilmington, Delaware area), to see an exhibit of the Costumes of Downton Abbey. My mom is a fan of the show; I’ve never watched an episode, but I still enjoyed seeing the detailed costume designs and learning more about the time period in which these fictional characters live and how their experiences in Britain would have compared with the du Ponts at Winterthur.

It was a very popular exhibit and admission was by timed pass only. This practice is the norm these days for popular museum exhibits, but I’m a bit cynical that it works, although I suppose it’s the best option available. Still it always feels as if the museums oversell each time slot because you are still cheek to jowl with your fellow museum patrons, moving like cattle along a predetermined route, with occasional backlogs as groups gather to read particularly interesting or lengthy descriptive text. Now, it’s not like my mom and I had any other plans for the day so we could take our time and wait out the bottlenecks, but I’m just not a fan of crowds so when something is that busy I tend to want to get through and get out so I can breathe again.

Crowd control in situations like these isn’t helped any by the camera happy – and with an exhibit with as much eye candy as this one, there were plenty of people pulling out their smart phones to capture all the sights. Now I can see taking a picture or two of your favorite costume, or the costume of your favorite character or from a favorite scene, but some people seemed to be just indiscriminately snapping everything in sight! I hate to image what their Facebook or Instagram feeds look like.

But, my snarky comment aside, I honestly do wonder what they do with all those pictures. You see, the other part of that weekend with my mom was spent going through years (and I do mean years) of family snapshots and slides from the 1970s and 1980s and tossing most of them. You don’t really appreciate how revolutionary the digital camera is until you spend the better part of two days remembering how you had to wait for the pictures to come back from the drug store (Sun Drug on Route 19 to be exact) only to find out someone’s eyes were closed or someone wasn’t smiling. Or you had to wait for Kodak to mail your slides back to you (all so dad could bring the slide projector and slide screen to every family gathering….but that’s another story).

I suppose the pictures could have been weeded as soon as they came back from the developer, but it was expensive to have them made, so they were kept, every one of them, and carefully labeled too; if not individually, then at least on the package so we generally knew the date and event. Do people take such care with their digital photographs? Or is it so easy to store and delete them that they don’t even give them a second thought; just snap away and in a couple of years have no idea the people, places or events that reside on their phones? (Well, ok, hopefully they’ll be able to identify the selfies.)

When digital storage is cheap, is it just so easy to simply keep clicking and never review what you have? [Just ask the person who never weeds out her e-mail accounts, but simply files them away in folders…..] But I really hope all those shutter happy people do pause every now and then and take the time to review the past.

I wouldn’t trade that weekend with my mom for anything. It was emotionally draining at times; reliving the past can do that to you — lots of “what ifs”; roads not taken, stuff like that. But if you simply appreciate what was there, you realize how good it was. We shared a lot of laughs, a few tears, and ton of memories and made some more. We weeded the photographs into four boxes – one box for me, one for my brother, one for the family genealogy, and one for my mom. The trash can got the rest.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a scrapbook to make.

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Filed under About Me, Genealogy, Photographs