A while back I spent an evening clearing out old photos, discarding the duplicates and failures. There’s very little after 2001, because it was soon after then when I switched to digital photography, so everything files itself neatly on an arbitrarily large hard drive.
If I could send a message to the 8-year old me, taking possession of his first camera, I’d probably give him the following suggestions.
1. When you receive your photos back from the developers, take out the ones that are blurred to the point which you can’t tell what they are. Take out the duplicates. You can leave in the ones of people that you secretly don’t actually like, but be aware that in twenty years, they will probably get discarded too.
2. Write some information on the back of each one with a felt-tip pen. Though they are all in their correct envelopes in sequential order on your shelf right now, they won’t always be. Put the date on them. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but it is useful information.
3. Don’t worry about names for now. In twenty years, if you can’t remember their name, then they probably didn’t make that much of an impact on you. However, at that point you SHOULD start adding names, because Alzheimer’s is just around the corner.
There is a certain tragedy to the way that photos are no longer something tangible that you flick through and handle by the edges. Much like music, we’ve learned how to extract the data and shift it between different formats at will. Sure, it’s still the same underlying data, but the romance is lost.
Remember to keep making those backups, guys.