Prints. Slides. Negatives. Movies. Videos. Photo albums. Scrapbooks. Journals. Boxes and boxes of tickets, fliers, receipts, menus and maps.
These are the artifacts and souvenirs of travel, most of which we probably never touch or see after initially (maybe) sorting and storing them. There comes a point when everyone who has such a collection must ask: So what do I do with all of this stuff?
My long-time walking partner and I were discussing this very question on one of our recent hikes. She’s well traveled, both in this country and abroad, and is in a quandary as to what to do with boxes and boxes of slides and photos from her journeys through the years. It’s time to assess, clean out and simplify, but how to do it?
I provided a few opinions and ideas because I’ve been in a purging mode lately, too. My husband and I had thousands of slides and photos that we wanted to consolidate, so it forced us to ask who else besides us might care about these memories?
Unfortunately, the hard-to-face answer was no one.
So we began with the slides and plowed through the collection, saving only those that included family and close friends. We sent these slides to a scanning service, then pitched the rest. I think my children and grandchildren will be glad that to have these people pictures, and now that they are digitalized, there’s no need for extra bookshelves
I’m pretty sure they’ll also be happy that they don’t have to sort, choose and organize after we’re gone.
Next: our 40-plus family photo albums. I’m now scanning the best of the people pictures to my computer, and will burn disks later. Will I be able to part with the original prints? I’m not sure, but I’m tossing all those out-of-focus, boring and unidentifiable shots.
Coincidentally, the August 2016 edition of International Travel News addresses this topic and asks readers to share their solution to dealing with decades of photos and slides. Here are some of their answers, somewhat paraphrased and edited:
• Use Microsoft Word to create and print pages with just a few photos from each trip, the highpoints and itineraries. Print on double-sided photo paper and place in a three-ring binder.
• I had accumulated nearly 10,000 slides and negatives. I sent them to ScanCafe (scancafe.com) and now they are all on my computer. Combined with my new digital images, I have 38,000 images (more than 200 gigabytes.) • I had thousands of slides. I picked out the best, had them scanned and threw the rest away. I use the scanned images as screen savers.
• I’ve used some of the old photos as postcards, especially the funny ones.
• I discarded all my slides and negatives, and digitalized my favorite prints. My grandson loves watching them on my television. After seeing the pictures of Iceland, he wants to go, so we are going together.
• I never look at any old photos and I knew no one else would ever be interested. It was a relief to throw it all away.
• We kept the photos we had in albums. Gritting my teeth, I threw the first five boxes (of extra photos) in the trash. After that, it was easy. I have now discarded more than 50 boxes.
• We dumped all of our negatives in a garbage bag and put them out for pickup. What we wanted were already in albums, and when we pass, our family will probably put these in the dumpster, too.
• I kept the photos in which my husband and I looked young, healthy and thin. I pulled out photos of buildings, landscapes and animals and gave them to a teacher, who used them for an art project.
• Take a deep breath, pick up the first box of old photos and negatives and toss! Repeat as needed. The contemplation is far worse than the act.