The death of the photo album

Last night I was lying in bed tossing and turning as I couldn’t sleep. So I grabbed my phone – which doesn’t help – and started looking around on wordpress. Checking out the daily prompts for writing ideas, and that day’s prompt (June 23rd) was themed Snapshot Stories.

Open the first photo album you can find — real or virtual, your call — and stop at the first picture of yourself you see there . Tell us the story of that photo.

While I was lying there I was thinking about what photo I would find, but more (de)pressingly, it dawned on me that I do not actually own any photo albums – not a ‘real’ photo album that is, as they so kindly put it. What ever happened to having to wait to see your holiday snaps when you got home and get them developed. The weighing up of the extra cost against the speedy 1hr development service. The excitement, when receiving your folder of photos and just had to go through them there and then in the shop, because you just couldn’t wait any longer. The instant feeling of happiness, whilst all of a sudden being reminded of all the fun things you did on holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my smartphone (and previously my digital camera). I love that I can take photos by the hundreds- potentially thousands now there are sport modes! I love ‘the idea’ of snap as many as possible now, you can always delete the bad ones later. I am an avid user of Instagram and have to actively stop myself from taking pictures at every meal. But… thinking back of the photo albums in my mum and dad’s house – how I would climb up a chair to grab them from the top shelf, blowing off a layer of dust, just because I just wanted to reminisce about ‘the good old days’ such as holidays and family events – it kind of makes me sad.

Somewhere along the way, I failed to make the effort of rummaging through loose photo’s and deciding which was going to go where in a new photo album – What little blurb would I write along with it, aside from the standard names in sequence, location, and date the photo was taken. Somewhere along the way I’d forgotten how much fun I used to have simply looking ‘back’ at pictures. I have a feeling a lot of us have lost these little moments, somewhere along the way. Do we ever sort all the photos we’ve taken? Finally ‘delete’ the bad ones? Do we ever really look back at our old digital photos – unless Timehop forces it on to us?

Are we the last generation to understand the warm fuzzy feelings that accompany physically hugging a tangible photo album, the tears of sadness or joy and laughter that stain the paper on which the photos are attached with yellowing sticky tape? Just as being the last generation who used to sit next to the radio with a tape recorder and the first and most likely last generation to take discmans outside for a run – and to realise… that the anti-shock just really did not deliver as promised. Are we also one of the last to look very awkward in our very own baby photos? It seems like every baby on Facebook I see popping along now just knows how to perfectly smile for the camera, every… single… time. Photos are taken with smartphones and little babies know instantaneously to look cute and smile or ‘make a funny face’. Will they grow up, looking back at these pictures? or will these pictures end up in the void that is digital storage? Will they remember when photos were taken? Will they remember the story behind the photo? that someone looks like she is falling of her chair snorting and laughing because someone said something funny during the shot? Who knows, I guess… only time will tell.

Just arrived back from a skiing holiday and needed instant cuddles with Ed Sheeran

The photo you see here is the first picture in my Facebook album titled  ‘mobile uploads’. These photos don’t even get the time and attention to be categorized into appropriate albums. They are a random collection of snaps taken here and there, whether they have meaning or not. With 267 photos this ‘mobile uploads’ album is at least 3 times bigger than any of my other Facebook albums. Turns out that my last Facebook digital album, that isn’t a profile pictures/timeline photos/ cover photos album, was created 10 months ago. Funnily enough, that album “Roffy of yesteryear” is an album filled with digital photos taken of actual printed photos.

This Daily prompt has made me think and I am thankful of the reminder that photos carry stories. These photos, with each their own unique story, need to be loved and cherished. Instead they are abandoned and forgotten, forever stored in the digital void.

❤ Sam

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Snapshot Stories.”

3 thoughts on “The death of the photo album

    1. That is very true I have seen quite a few digital “instant” photo cameras in stores, although, it would be interesting to find out whether they are selling well. So far I haven’t seen anyone using them out and about. There is nothing stopping us from printing our digital photos though, and it is more that I am annoyed with myself for not having stayed on top of it. The longer it is left, the bigger the chore.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading 🙂


      1. Agreed. I’man archivist by training and trade and **should** know better than to let digital photos pile up by the gigabyte buuuut…..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s