Pictures in a Digital Age

When the boys were younger, we would buy them those disposable cameras to take on field trips and vacations. It was the safest method for their picture taking considering how often they forgot where they put things. However, when I went to have the film developed quite often I had wished that they had lost the camera. There were shots of the car ceiling, the floorboard, the back of a seat, toys taking naps, and some things I just could not recognize. There blurry shots and dark shots and too bright shots and shot after shot of a tree, usually the same tree.

Still, there were funny moments found in their cameras, such as the photo shoot taking place in the back seat where Chris pretended he was one of the Power Rangers and Zac took several shots for posterity. There were cute poses of them sleeping and several of the family pets, pictures I would have never known about or probably taken that I’m glad I have now.

However, then the problem became we took them, glanced at them after we bought them, and then tossed them into a box or photo album, stuck them in a closet and forgot about them. We only dragged them out when company came and wanted to peek or we moved houses and remembered they were in there. All of those memories were remanded to a closet darker than my memory. It seemed a waste and a shame.

Things became somewhat better with the advent of the digital camera. Now it didn’t matter how many pictures they took of the car’s floorboard, because I wasn’t paying to have them developed. A hundred pictures of a tree from every angle and still that was fine. Digital space is easier to maneuver than closet space. It also made them easier to share through email and uploads. Still, it didn’t even matter that they were on social media sites like Facebook because while I post them so that long distance family and friends can see them, I rarely go back and browse through them unless I need a picture for a blog post and remembered where a good embarrassing one of the kids was posted. It’s faster than digging through that box in the closet and scanning one. Still, even though they are easier to find and look at, it still seemed I wasn’t enjoying them as much as I should.

Then technology caught up with my frustration, as it has a habit of doing, and someone invented digital picture frames. While quite a bit of technological advances leave me feeling like Gibbs from NCIS, I love this contraption, er, device. We have two, one in each of the main rooms of our house and I have purchased large thumb drives to use with them. I’ve spent hours loading pictures and shuffling them so that they will rotate in no necessary order or timeframe. Zac will be in his baby carrier in one picture and then two pictures later he’s showing off his new truck. I can sit and stare as they shuffle through or just smile as one photo catches my eye as I am passing through the house. The 9 year-old is constantly stopping in front of them and staring at pictures of her, which I suppose is better than her standing in front of a mirror all day long.

And the great thing is that I can do whatever I want with them. I have thumb drives for the holidays, and at Thanksgiving, I will pull the general one out and place the Christmas one in. We can relive the previous years’ highlights as we’re preparing for the current year. And we can keep adding, unlike a photo album that fills up, and a thumb drive is quite a bit smaller and easier to store than a photo album. The digital picture frame even has a remote!

I would replace all of the picture frames in the house with digital ones if I could. I’d hang them on the walls, put them on shelves and desks, and keep one by my bedside. There is never a time that I get bored of looking at them as the memories they hold are always bringing a smile to my face. I’ve even begun to scan all of those pictures that have been crammed into boxes in the closet or under the bed. Now I have to figure out what to do with all of that space I am freeing up.

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