My first camera was pink and had a picture of Mickey Mouse on it. It was the kind where you had to buy an expensive attachment if you wanted to have a flash, and it was only good for ten flashes or so. Plus, you had to pay to get film developed, so I remember my mom instructing me on making every shot count.
Fast forward about fifteen years, and picture rationing has gone the way of walking across the room to change the TV channel. Now that everyone and their brother carries a digital camera around in their back pocket, picture overload is a much more common dilemma.
In the spring I worked on a scrapbook of our family trip to Germany. Of the ten people in our group, at least five had a camera with them at any given monument. Each cameraperson took a few shots of everything to try to get the best angle. Click, click, click…that was blurry…a guy walked in front of my shot…now one with all of the siblings…now one with Mom and Dad in it…now one with just Alan and Katy…oh, hold up your ring and let me make sure it’s in the picture…well, you get the idea.
By the time we got home, we had literally hundreds, maybe a thousand pictures of our ten days overseas. It took forever to sort through them all, distinguish the poor from the good from the better, and select just a lucky few to represent our trip.
Fast forward a few months, and picture these diligent documentarians in the presence of their first daughter/nice/granddaughter. Oh, my! Everything Abby did was new, or cute, or hard to capture on camera, so from her first weeks at home we ended up with–again–hundreds of precious images! There were so many, it was ipossible to enjoy them all. Rationally, I know there’s really only so many pictures we need of those first yawns and snuggles with our various family members. But how is a loving mom to cull the photos?
Even the pictures that are blurry or poorly lit can be hard to delete. These photos represent moments of Abby’s life that we’ll never get back again! Even if she’s making a weird face–not the one we meant to catch–it’s hard to get rid of it. (Of course, if I am in the picture making a weird face, or looking excessively bloated, the choice is much easier.)
Anyway, the Germany scrapbook eventually came together, and just a few days ago, I got the bulging photo folders in My Pictures pared down to a representative hundred or so. But it wasn’t without a few regretful scrolls through the Recycle Bin!
I started by making five or six sub-folders, so that I could divide the pictures up and look at a manageable number at a time. Then I arranged “like” pictures side-by-side: all six images of Stephen dressing Abby in her coming home outfit. Of those, I picked one that was the best. Or sometimes I’d decide I really didn’t need a picture of Stephen dressing Abby in her coming home outfit at all, and all six would be deleted. Hitting the delete button took some determination, but I feel a great sense of accomplishment now that it’s done.
Now I have a few great pictures that are easy to enjoy and share, and I have plenty of space on my hard drive for all of the cute faces and occasions that are coming up just around the corner!
Follow up– My mom and I were discussing this overwhelming problem the other day, and we decided that one good technique is to sort through pictures long after they were taken, so that you are not as emotionally tied to each one. In hindsight, many lovely medieval buildings actually look basically the same. It’s easier to get rid of the three or four versions of “Alan holds Abby at the hospital” when we’ve since taken several other lovely pictures of Abby with her dear uncle. Just a little tip in case anyone else struggles with the same issue! Meanwhile, I’m trying to break the habit of snapping three pictures of every sweet scene I’m trying to capture.