Photographs have been a big part of my adult life. I’ve always had lots of framed blow-ups of family members, including pets, decorating my house. I also loved making large, artistic photo montages of major family events, like weddings , Bar Mitzvahs, a 90th birthday party, and special trips. These are also scattered through my home.

My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah Montage, January, 1998

In addition, I made giant family photo albums documenting everyone’s lives – my mother’s, mine before kids, and my children’s up to 2002. I even made one for my ex-husband after he died. I wanted my kids to have a photographic biography of his life, and of theirs with him. I have separate albums for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, my second wedding, to Tom, and one for two special canal boat trips we took through the English countryside.

Photos are a different kind of commodity today. My relationship to photos changed when I started using my phone as my primary camera. Now photos are more about sharing something I‘m seeing or doing with friends and family. Something to text or email to say, “Hey! Look at this!” I can shop with my daughter in LA when we send each other photos of items we’re thinking about buying. I can often get real time advice from her while she’s 3000 miles away.

This is wonderful. You can share photos of your trip with friends the minute you get home. You don’t have to wait to get photos back from the printer and then make a slide show or a photo album. On the other hand, I took so many photos on our last big trip (three weeks in France, including one week in Paris), that only a few people have actually seen them all. I printed a few artsy photos for my wall, but I’ve never culled them all down into a manageable unit for showing. So, in a way, that trip has been lost to me. I can’t readily access specific memories or highlights of the trip. And it has never been fully shared.

Montage of Canal Boat Trip in England With Tom

I used to carry mini photo albums in my purse. That way I could easily show people my favorite recent pictures of my kids, my husband, my dogs or a favorite trip. And in the order I want to show them. Now, sharing photos can be an awkward ordeal. You have to flip through massive numbers of photos, frantically trying to remember where to find the ones you want. It can be embarrassing to keep someone waiting patiently as you go through the “Now, where is that damned photo” dance.

It’s also hard to show different photos that didn’t happen to be taken at the same time. Because they are in a totally different place. You have to find one group and then search again for the other. Nowadays, a photographic memory means being able to remember where all your photos are in your phone!

photos wedd montage
Montage of Tom & Ellin’s Wedding. November 2002.

Basically, I have more photos now but less access to the ones I want at any given time. I’m drowning in photos, but they’re much less a part of my daily life. I’ve only added one framed photo to my house in the last several years. And the task of organizing my photos into subject albums seems overwhelming.

So I’m left longing for the good old days, when I didn’t have thousands of pictures with me, on my phone, 24/7. But I had more meaningful pictures in my home and in my life, 24/7.


  1. A lot of people think that all of our pictures, because they aren’t printed, will simply disappear with us when we go. No albums. All the memories, just gone. We are probably the last generation that actually HAS printed pictures. Our kids have a few, but their kids have none. I’m not sure how I feel about that.


    1. Isn’t it ironic that we have so many more photos but they are so much more ephemeral. Also not shared as much as they were when we had photos all over our house.

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      1. We should have Barbra singing “The Way We Were” for this one, Ellin.

        I wish I had photos of some of my “legends” encounters. But I never felt okay with asking. I think it would’ve spoiled the relaxed settings with these folks.


  2. I had a conversation about organization with my neighbor who is helping me with computer issues. My photos are in folders which are labeled by topic and date, and they are each dated. I never had any idea how many there would eventually be, and it’s now time to organize them more tightly, perhaps in folders by year, or in larger folders by topic And I still am trying to answer the question “What are you going to do with all those phtos?”!


    1. That’s what I did with mine. Except I don’t remember what I did in each of the months of those years and now that my photos have exceeded 100,000 and lord knows how many i’ll have eventually, I can’t find anything. I try to label special events separately, but everything else is by year and month. OY.

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      1. I think I’m going to flip it and have the major files be topics, with subfiles the years/months. I also have copies of the best in files labelled Favorites, those I used for calendars, the great blue herons, etc., in their own topic files.


        1. That’s a good idea. I’m going to pull out “favorite” photos so at least I can access those more readily. Now I have to scroll through several years of random photos to find something. Very frustrating. I don’t even have the latest photos of my dogs and kids readily available. They are all in different places, God knows where. I’ve given up trying to show people photos from years ago. Too hard to find.


      2. I find that organization by date, which is my phone’s default, is useless. Who remembers when you took a particular photo?


    2. At least you have your photos all organized in folders by topic and date. That is like a real photo album. Most people, like me, just have tons of chronological images in our phone or computer. You can at least find a photo if you want to show it to someone. Or go look at a trip or event again. You are way ahead of where most people are with their photos! Good for you.


  3. There is something special about a photo album. I have many all divided up at different stages of our family life. Also we have an album for almost every country when we travelled. I still have a ton of photos that haven’t been organized and labeled. I wonder what the children will do with all this family history.


    1. I have many, many family and trip photo albums. My son is now digitizing them for me! I’m so excited. He’s starting with a 30 year old album and most of the photos are falling out! The glue or tape has stopped working after all these years. My project for the summer will be to retape all those photos in all those albums! They mean so much to me. My son is having a great time looking at the old photos of him as a baby as he scans each page. This is a real bonding experience for the two of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynn always falls asleep during a movie we watch at home, no matter if she picks it or not. How can you fall asleep during a documentary on Bergen-Belsen? But she did. And that’s one she picked. In fact, she only picks documentaries or “movies based on fact” of anything to do with Nazis or Native Americans. And she hates film noir, one of my favorite genres. I have to watch those alone.


    1. I’m with her on the film noir. Garry likes it. I don’t. Too noir and totally lacking in wit and humor. But all that Nazi stuff? My mother dipped me into the Nazi sewer when I was a wee one, lest I forget the war i was born after. And then I lived in Israel. I’ve had enough Nazi and concentration camps for several lifetimes. Garry has to watch THEM alone. But oddly, he also won’t watch Mississippi Burning. He got dipped in that very early, too. Also, he covered it. As a reporter.


      1. I guess I’ve led a pretty sheltered life as there’s almost nothing I won’t dip into as far as movies go. Except for maybe the new trend of chick flick where women get drunk and talk dirty for laughs. On second thought, I don’t like films where the guys do that, either.


        1. Garry has quite a few things he doesn’t like, foremost amongst them being comedies that aren’t funny … and movies where they forgot to hire an editor. But that’s really movie specific. He doesn’t like really depressing movies and fortunately, neither do I. But i will watch anything about the medieval period and he’s really not enchanted by the 14th century. Or Vampires.


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