Wednesday, March 8, 2017

An Abundance of Photographs

loose photos
When I chose Abundance as my 2017 One Little Word, I wasn't sure what it would mean in my life. I never really know where a OLW is going to take me. But Abundance has really been helping me take stock: what do I have? where can I cut? how can I give?

Last month I wrote about an Abundance of Notebooks. This month I've discovered my Abundance of Photographs.

an abundance of scrapbooks
I'm a historian, a memory-maker and a memory-keeper. I have always always loved photographs. And I come from a family of avid photographers: my father, my younger brother and my sister. We have each spent hours, days, weeks of our lives devoted to recording and preserving our experiences. We've gone through slides and snapshots and film. I, alone, have made dozens and dozens of scrapbooks. Reliving and remembering my life is almost as fun as the original experience!

photo ornaments
Why all this mad need to document? I don't know. It kind of goes against everything I am moving toward these days in my effort to be present for my life. When one has a camera trained on every experience, one is at least one lens away from actually being there. And why must the sunrise be captured on film, instead of simply enjoyed? I don't know.

I guess taking a photograph is one way to hold on to something, to preserve it. A way to go back, to experience the joy all over again.

photo collage
I have learned things from photographs. I have treasured the ones I have that include loved ones no longer on this planet. I have loved getting to know a younger ME in photographs. And I have loved sharing photographs with our children of themselves when they were wee. It's a way to say, see, there you are, a version of you, and that version still exists.

photos in frames
But I do wonder: what happens to all these photographs when I am gone? Who will care? And how sad that many of these faces will turn nameless, unknown?

And then I think: it's okay. There is enough time and space in the world for everyone. It's good and right that we should all move on.

I don't know what will happen to all my photographs, but I am sure that they have been a huge source of joy for me. And maybe not quite as necessary as they once were? Yes, I can feel myself trusting that these things, these experiences will continue to exist even without photographs as proof.

But still: is there anything more precious than a photograph?

a new father, my Papa, holding his
third child/firstborn baby girl - me


  1. Oh, did you hit a nerve....I am swamped with precious photographs....overwhelmed with where to begin. The writer in me wants to slow down for each. It's not possible. The historian in me wants to archive them. It's not realistic to do this as it takes away from accessibility. All I can say is that I "feel ya". Love how you shared some precious ones here today.

  2. You were such a sweet wee babe! And what a great expression on your papa's face, holding your foot so tenderly! (I have no idea what to do about an abundance of photographs!! xo)

  3. Oh, that picture of you and your papa is precious beyond words. I'm still a lover of photographs (even in this digital age). My daughter printed 5 photos from Jack's newborn shoot for me and I adorned the fridge with them yesterday. What to do? I've contemplated sending all my photos to be converted to digital formats, but there's so much organizing to do ahead of that. And what if they got lost? An abundance of photographs . . . it's a lovely problem to have.

  4. oh my goodness...i have always loved photography (even do it on the side for some) and i love to have them all over our home. For years I didn't do that, before we were married I put art and prints on the wall. Then we started taking pics when we travel, selfies and landscape shots. I began hanging them in a crazy guggenheim gallery sort of way. It wasn't that you were surrounded by photographs in our house as much as you felt as though you were in them with us. Then my sweet husband said something that will keep me clicking a camera until my fingers no longer can: "Courtney, I love our walls. Every time I'm having a bad day I look at our walls - covered in pictures of travels and moments and I am reminded how blessed I am, how blessed I have been and that these are pictures of people I continue to be blessed to know." I wanted to cry it was so sweet and honestly out of character to be so open. I realized he truly does look at it that way, I've caught him staring at a picture only to have him begin reminiscing and watch his mood move up with every memory he recalls. So for me, my abundance of photographs will continue to grow, hopefully letting my precious daughter see the blessing she is and realizing how much we treasure her - perhaps she will hold onto some for future generations....


Your thoughts?