Today we started clearing and sorting our junk room… ahem… I mean, our study. Over the course of many months, this room has evolved from a usable space with a small library of our books and treasured documents to a door we can no longer open because of all the crap we have dumped on the other side. It’s a good time of year for sorting, and so, we set the girls up with a movie and began the mammoth task of making the room usable once again.
My allocated task became rapidly my only task for this afternoon. I was handed a pile of six or seven of my old and very large photo albums and told – quite precisely – to put them somewhere else or throw them all away. Now, I am the type of person who loves taking photos, and before the digital age, I amassed quite a collection over the years. Mr Mulder, on the other hand, would prefer to enjoy the moment rather than spend it with a camera stuck to your eye. I’m sure there’s a middle ground there somewhere (hahah), but nonetheless, it was going to be an easy decision for me. How could I throw away my life? I would just find a place for the albums in my wardrobe.
However. Call it pressure, call it letting go of baggage, call it what you will, I decided to go through the albums and keep only the photos that were special to me or might be interesting for my girls to see in the future. As it stood, the albums were a mixture of good and bad photos – some beautifully composed shots, but many blurry and over-exposed – as well as many photos that my girls would certainly find interesting… but not for the right reasons.
Mummy, who is that man you’re kissing? Mummy, why are you lying on the floor with a wine glass in your hand? Mummy, why do have a parrot on your ear and a straw hanging out your nose? I could go on…
As it stood, the albums were just sitting there, untouched since they were made, and in all honesty, never going to be touched again unless some serious composition cuts were made.
So I set about going through them. Looking, culling, pulling out the goodies and chucking away the bad. The only way I can describe the process is that it was like a very long journey. It was emotional at times, also rocky, humourous, enlightening and amazing. I’d almost forgotten how many places I have been to in my life. There was me on Brooklyn Bridge, there was me on the Spanish steps, at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower (yes, the bottom, don’t ask!), on a beach in Corfu. There was me hanging off a billboard in London, there was me on a bouncy castle in my university ball dress in Reading, there was me with my family when we lived in England, there was me “homeless” on a beach in Guernsey on our way to our new home in Australia. There was my grandad…
What a long way I’ve come, but what a long way I’ve still to go.
It’s unsettling at first. Seeing all those memories, those places, those faces. People still with me, people who I’ve lost along the way. Everyone was important to me at one time or another. But no one could be as important to me, right now, as my own family – my husband, my children.
So I did it for them. I chucked about 90% of them. Most of the ones I chucked were of people no longer a part of my life, but I kept the ones of me in different places, and those of friends that I’m still connected with in some way. The special ones…
Btw. I also kept the photo of me in Lanzarote with a parrot on my ear and a straw hanging out my nose.
Now I can show my girls — freely — the small (well, fairly small) pile of photos I have remaining. I can show my husband too, without him feeling like a spare part among a sea of old boyfriends. Not that he would ever say that.
But most importantly, I can now look through the highlights of my life — in pictures. Only my memories will hold the blurry moments, the scary moments, the unwanted moments, but that’s ok.
Here’s what’s left… the happy times xxx
And here is one I took today on my evening walk with my dog.
I won’t stop taking photos. But I might just move the camera away from my face and enjoy the moment a little bit more 😉
Are you a serial photographer? Or do you like to enjoy the moment? Why do you take photos?