Recently, I have been working on uploading and organizing my personal digital photo collection. Somehow, I have managed to get way, way behind -- two years behind, to be exact. How did that happen?
It all gets to be too much. I have too many digital photography devices: the old cell phone, the new cell phone, the tablet, the old camera, the new camera, and the photos that have arrived by email from friends and family. I have to upload them all to my photo program on my computer in a reasonable sequence, naming the events and correcting the dates (the date wasn't set right on my old camera so all the photos think they were taken in 2004). Then, because I am a perfectionistic Virgo, I have to edit all of the photos to make sure that they have the best balance of colour and light, and so that they are cropped properly to have good composition and no crooked horizons. And finally, I organize them all into folders labelled by year, month, and event. I have managed to turn something fun into a huge chore!
Because it has become a huge overwhelming chore, I have been procrastinating about dealing with my photos. The matter has been further complicated by having had my laptop computer stolen two years ago, and not replacing it right away. So, when I finally replaced it, I had to work with backups from various sources. Then the new computer crashed and had to go for repairs. Then I moved, and then I became very busy in my new job. Meanwhile, the photos on various devices kept proliferating, and I felt less and less inclined to even start the task.
I cannot blame the digital age though. I do recall that in the days of film, I used to get equally behind in sorting and putting snapshots into photo albums. There are chunks of time, years in length, for which I have no albums. These gaps in the photo record of my life and my children's development have now become nearly impossible to reconstruct, were I to go back into the boxes of unsorted photos.
While I was organizing my digital photos last night, I became aware of another sort of gap in the record. Any person looking at my photos over the last two years would probably come to the conclusion that I have a wonderful, leisure-filled life, always surrounded by family and friends. My albums are full of pictures of skiing, hiking, gardening, and travelling here and there. There are photos of our grownup children, our grandchildren, and many other family members, along with many happy dinners with friends.
I do have a good life, and I do enjoy skiing, hiking, and so forth. However, I fit these activities in around the edges, during evenings, weekends, and statutory holidays. My kids and grandkids, family, and friends are all far away, and I have to travel a long way to see them, or they have to travel a long way here to see us. Each of our grandsons is three flight connections away in different directions, or two long days of driving each way.
The thing that is missing from my photo record is what I spend most of my time doing -- working. Five days every week, ten hours every day, eleven or more months of every year, are completely absent from my digital file of images. I am not quite sure what it means that I have this big gap in the record.