This Father’s Day will be very different for me. It will be the first year without my father who died at age 94 just two months ago after a long, happy and fruitful life. I read what I had written for this blog last year at this time. I’m now very glad I wrote what I did, when I did so that he could read it too. We sometimes forget, or just don’t take time, to tell those who matter most to us in our lives exactly how we feel about them. You can read or re-read what I wrote about my Dad last year by clicking on this link:https://cherylcrooksphotography.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/celebrating-dad/ . It will take you there.
This Father’s Day I have a room full of boxes of albums, loose and framed photos, home movies and slides that one of my brother’s hauled out from Kansas to me just this past week. My father, in written instructions, appointed me in charge of sorting through and dividing up the family’s photo archives. And when you’re a photographer’s daughter, that’s a huge responsibility. Fortunately, my mother, also now deceased, had gone through many of their personal photographs years ago. She thoughtfully separated many of them into boxes, each carefully labeled with my and my brothers’ names. She placed many into photo albums according to date. When,due to her dementia, she became too disabled to do more, I took over the job.
During my trips to visit my parents in recent years, I spent many late nights, after they had both gone to bed, sitting in front of the television, organizing and sliding photos into albums. Instead of putting them into chronological order, I categorized the albums into subject matter. This is something I had done with my own family’s photos. I often can’t remember exactly what year I took the trip or when a particular event, other than a life milestone, may have happened. I have divided and placed my photos into an album of the same subject. I can more easily find or reference it without having to go through several albums or yes, even those shoebox-size storage cartons.
I did the same for my parents. There’s an album devoted to my mother’s family reunions, another of my Dad’s Army reunions and some with just photos from their more recent vacations. I made a couple containing photos of just my own family taken during visits with each other and of other photos I had sent to them to keep them updated on my family’s activities and growth. Still another album is of my Dad’s photography career and includes clippings from the newspaper as well as other mementos from his portrait studio. We took that album, as well as the one I had assembled about his military service, to the funeral home so that those who came could look through it. Many did.
It’s now a popular choice to make printed books of one’s digital photos. I’ve done it myself. In fact, I offer “Memory Books” and “Signature Albums” to both my high school senior and family clients. It’s been a very well received product among my studio clients. But I still make individual prints of my personal family ‘snapshots’ and I encourage others to do the same. I don’t sell digital images to my professional clients, except for business purposes. I know many professional photographers do, but I personally regard it as a disservice to my clients. Computer manufacturers are turning out both desk and laptop machines today that have no CD drives.
I have stored away three and five-inch floppy drives of articles, written during my career as a journalist, on a word processing program that no longer exists, on a computer operating system that no longer exists, on a computer that no longer exists. If I hadn’t had the foresight to print out ‘hard’ copies of all those articles, I’d have no record, (other than the on-line versions) of my many contributions to the world of journalism.
It’s the same with my own photographs, for both my professional and personal work. I advise making prints of any photo that has any significant personal value to you, another reason my studio sells prints instead of digital images. I know, there’s always the ‘Cloud’. But it wasn’t always there, nor is there any guarantee that it will always be there or in its present day form. Or that the access you have now will be same. Think of how many times people have told you that their computers ‘crashed’ and that they lost all their photos stored on it. (You must back-up your digital photos onto an external drive, on-line storage or even CD.)
To have an album full of photos is a treasure. I realize how much of a treasure it truly is since my father’s passing. I don’t have him this Father’s Day to wish him a happy day, or to tell him how much I love him and how much I appreciate all that he has done for me through the years. But I can look back, turn through the pages of those albums that I now must sort through and remember the times growing up, doing things together, celebrating holidays, taking vacations, visiting relatives, sharing meals or just living everyday life. All those priceless memories captured forever in a photo. Thanks, Dad.