Discovering old family photos can be a mixed bag. It conjures up memories, puts us in touch with those who have departed our world, reminds us of our own mortality and elicits a smile for good times past.
When many of us hear the word declutter, anxiety fills in what can be a voyage, long or short, of discovery and an opportunity to share what we have uncovered as we address those photos of old and new.
What we must consider is what these photos mean to us, what they might mean to our family members and just how much we feel we have to keep them all intact. And also what to do with them. Wow!
I find a happy way to tackle piles of old photos is to approach them with respect and calm. Be prepared for surprises and mystery. How much room do you have to store them? Can you use some of that space for current printed photos of you and your loved ones? Think about photographing those vintage photos with your phone. These days our phones do yeoman work capturing moments and these ancient photos can be enjoyed again and again once they are stored safely in your computer, phone, cloud.
As we go through our collections handed down through generations, ask your family how they would like this part of your legacy to be handled. You'd be surprised at the many reactions you'll get when you broach the subject. Just remember, these are your photos and you are part of the decision-making process along with your loved ones.
You'll know when it's time to gather, sort, decide what you really want to retain and when you are ready, truly deeply, to let go of that stiff pose of great great grandma standing proudly in front of a camera that took minutes to snap her image.
So think about sharing your delight at unearthing and uncovering photos and all the feelings they bring about as you organize your family history. It can be eye-opening in more ways than one.