We are digitizing so much more information than ever before these days and as a result it feels like we are part of a new digital revolution.
We keep so many more images in our phone and hard drives than most of us ever imagined we could a few years ago.
It’s a little sad because we store these memories digitized on drives where they are often abandoned and forgotten.
I guess this was the case before smart phone cameras turned practically every insignificant moment into an occasion to be photographically memorialized. Back in the day, photographs that couldn’t make it into an album would be heaped into shoeboxes and stored away, stacked and obscured by detritus and decades of accumulation, only to be unearthed years later
I was there when the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck arrived at my grandmother’s house. We remembered those trucks from the show Hoarders, which we would watch in horror, as we tried to grasp the house of useless and broken objects that started to claim my grandmother’s expansive house after the death of my grandfather years back.
That’s where we found boxes of long-forgotten photographs…photographs that went back over a century. There were photographs of relatives I never knew existed.
As we sifted through the images of the past, overcome with melancholia sometimes, but mostly filled with a sense of wonderment, I started thinking about my own short past and accumulation of memories.
How many great photos have I lost on flash drives that were displaced throughout the years?
How many images of trips and special occasions had I lost when my computer crashed back in the day and I didn’t have a backup in place before the cloud make it easier to safeguard digital files.
These memories make it from our phones to our computers or Facebook and Instagram. They are observed by our friends, acquaintances and then quickly forgotten with a new onslaught of images filling up our social timelines.
But I wanted to find ways that I could call out the important images for a more lasting impact.
That’s when I had a Eureka! Moment: reverse the trend of digitizing and transfer them to paper prints. What a novel idea.
It actually seemed like a wild notion to my Millennial friends who regarded printed photos and photo albums as relics of an ancient age.
So I found sites where I could easily and cheaply turn important digital prints into framed wall art or photo books that I can display on the coffee table. There is even a fantastic site where you can connect directly to your Instagram feed to build a photo book, and even a site where you can convert them into a massive print to cover the entire wall.
When my friends started seeing these creations in my home, many of them followed suit and began turning their images into wall art and photo books for their family and friends. We started a print movement. We started calling it our post-digital age revolution, much to the delight of our elderly relatives who cower in fear at the thought of using a computer.
When we finally finished discarding the clutter from my grandmother’s house, and moved her into a more manageable space that we decorated with old images along with more recent digital prints of family in photo books and wall art, it transformed the move into something overwhelmingly exciting for her.
She’s never hoarded again.
Newsmagazine and Black Lamb in Portland, Oregon; PragueOne in the
The Czech Republic; and for Penguin Group in New York City. He recently relocated to Boise, Idaho from New York and lives with his wife and three kids.