Today’s technology allows us to add many more photos to our family history records, memoirs, and genealogy research than would have been possible for our grandmothers or even our mothers. With modern digital cameras, we can know in an instant if the photo turned out—and immediately take another if it didn’t. We can crop and maneuver brightness, contrast, and color to our desired likeness, and we can immediately share these photos via our phones, computers, and social networking sites. What is sad, though, is that the majority of our photos end up on a disc or in a computer file never to be seen again.
Ask yourself: How often do you sit in front of a monitor and actually review and talk about your photos? When was the last time you sat with your children or snuggled with your grandchildren reminiscing over old photos? If the photos are just digital images, it’s likely the answer is, “never.”
My daughter, Miranda Gumtow, and granddaughter, Kelly Jones, love looking at old photos and hearing the stories. I love when they ask questions and want to know more about the people in the photos.
I have found that sitting on the sofa with my grandchild in my lap and daughter by my side looking at printed photos conjures up many more memories, discussions, and feelings of love and togetherness than would happen if we were viewing digital images, such as all the photos sitting on a CD in my office waiting for me to add captions.
I strongly encourage everyone is to continue to create the old-fashioned, physical photo album. Store the digital originals in a safe manner (so you can make new copies if ever necessary) but pick your favorite photos, old and new, and make prints, arrange them in albums (using archive quality paper and adhesives, of course), and add captions—and then spend time sitting with your family poring over the albums. Let the pages become ragged and worn with use—as The Velveteen Rabbit learned, that’s a sign of real love!
So what do you think? Can digital albums ever replace the real thing? Should they?
About today’s contributor: Vickie Chupurdia lives in northeastern Minnesota. She has been doing extensive genealogy research and personal histories for herself and others for more than 30 years. She has conducted classes at the collegiate level and is available for speaking engagements and seminars.