The Forgotten Sort

Crouched in dark corners, forgotten in attics and cupboards, are boxes bursting with eyes and parts of limbs.

These postcard sized pieces of paper aren’t actually hiding shameful secrets but their owners still feel guilty. How so? The contents are precious but they’re in a muddle and few people actually know what to do with them. I’m talking about that unwieldy stash of old photographs that everyone has.

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Back of a photograph (taken from an album) handwritten date 1927

 

 Despite the current trend of decluttering our homes, it feels like a crime to trash old photographs. But is there a way to pare down the quantity and enjoy what’s left? I think so. I’ve been working on this very issue for the last several months, both with my parents’ and my own stash. The task seemed overwhelming at first but …

… I came up with a system to sort and use a selection of old images more meaningfully.

My intent being to make a selection accessible for the whole family to enjoy – and to get rid of irrelevant/damaged ones thereby reducing clutter. For now I’ll back track to how this all began and then, over the next few posts, share some stumbling blocks to sorting, and practical ways I found to work around them.

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Mum (seated centre) looking at photographs with friends in the 70s

While in South Africa with my parents last year I dug out their boxes of photographs. My siblings and I laughed and reminisced about our childhood. And we quizzed Mum and Dad to fill gaps in our knowledge and to understand from an adult’s perspective some of the things we remembered/perceived as children.

We built memories on memories.

Looking at old photos with others can be fun, informative and healing.

This year I want some of those photographs to have a positive place in my home. But, let’s face it, there’s a limit to how many images we can look at before boredom sets in, so there needs to be a careful selection, presented meaningfully.

Next post:  Rummaging through old photographs with the intent of ‘Finding the Good Ones’.

(Future posts will cover sorting, collating, dilemmas in choosing, digitising, displaying, images of historical significance and dealing with digital images). 

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