“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” Dorothea Lange
I have no idea what to do with old photographs. I have ones of my mother when she was young, of my own youth, of my children, of travels, of holidays, and of nature in its beauty. I have photographs of sports teams, friends, weddings…and I could easily go on. The problem is that I can’t bear to throw out the images. I feel like I am throwing away precious memories and mementos and, worse, a bit of the connection between the person in the picture and me. How warped is that?
So what do I do with the photographs? Most of the them are stuffed haphazardly in boxes and shoved in the back of closets. Others are in albums made decades ago. A few are framed or posted on the refrigerator. The ones from recent years are stored on my phone and computer, and a small subset of them appear on my screensaver. That is it! Hundreds of pictures, (a thousand?) many of them lovely, have remained unseen for years, for decades. What is the point of that?!
I suppose that in the future, when I need to downsize, someone helping me will just dump the pictures into the trash. I probably wouldn’t notice that they were gone. Or maybe the opposite will happen, and I’ll look through them as a tired old woman, with little to do and much to reminisce about. Simon and Garfunkel sung, “Preserve your photographs. They’re all that’s left you.” (“Old Friends”). I hope that there is always more in my life – more friends, family, relationships, and events — than my memories.
All of those old photographs sitting undisturbed, all of those memories…For now, I’ll let them be.