Cherished Photographs Capture Important Memories in Time

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How long has it been since you took a roll of film to Walgreen’s, Sam’s or the grocery store? Days of Fox Photo, Ritz Camera and storefronts in Post Oak Mall are just memories, aren’t they?

I started thinking about that last Saturday at the Aggie game at Kyle Field. I was amazed at how many iPhones were videoing the Fightin’ Texas Aggie band at halftime, simultaneously. If you took a picture of all the people capturing video, not just still photos, you would have seen a sea of cell phones.

When I posted my video on Facebook and Instagram for friends who couldn’t be there, instant feedback resulted. Many friends were hundreds of miles apart but all got to see them together. And yet, during a visitation in our Funeral Center last week, I thought about how much we continue to appreciate when family members bring in wonderful framed photographs, black and white and color. People stand and review all the photos of the loved one in different times of their lives. Photos help us remember life and legacy.

My favorite photographs include multiple generations, seeing three, four, and five generations together. There’s something special about those pictures, a time where everyone made it a point to be together for a photo. When you see at least three generations together, it’s so poignant, especially as a memory when some people might be missing next year.

The big question is: how many hard copy prints are you making these days? Are all your photos now “saved images” stored somewhere on a small 3” × 5” hard drive or on your computer? Are they stored in a cloud somewhere? At any point, those images are not guaranteed to be permanent, at least not as permanent as printed photographs. In the days of computer crashes, portable hard drive failures, and power surges, paper backup guarantees you have cherished memories to share for years to come.

I’d like to challenge each of us to share a multiple generations photo, and with it, tell me how long it took you to find it, and where you have it in your home. Why all the questions?

Over the weekend, I was remembering a recent experience where I’d been summoned for Brazos County jury duty. The entire jury pool was sitting in the courtroom, listening to the attorneys ask a lot of questions of us. We were supposed to raise our hands if any of us had any trouble following the law, no matter what the circumstances. The case was one that involved arson, and the suspect was accused of purposely setting fire to a family’s home.

In the fire, precious photographs were destroyed and there was something about that where I just sat there stunned. Precious photographs were gone. How many of us have only one copy of our photos? Life is so busy that few people have time to scan every single photo we own. In fact, when Chelsea and I moved last year, we found ourselves going through boxes in our old home and I remember seeing a stack of photos “to be put in a scrapbook when there was time one day.” One year later, we still haven’t had time to put the photos in a scrapbook.

That’s really telling because when in life do we have time to preserve the past? I’m not sure that’s ever. But there are some new photo scanning services now, even available through Walgreen’s, Walmart, Sam’s, Costco and other individual businesses that take your photo prints and digitize them so they’re not lost if something happens to them.

But still, they’re not the real thing. It’s wonderful to have the ‘images’ preserved forever, true. But the really best thing, in my opinion, is the fact that we hold photos that were actually held and handled by our parents, our grandparents, and our great-grandparents, in many cases. When you’re a kid, remember the comfort of holding your grandfather’s hand as you try something new? How you felt when your grandmother hugged you? Holding one of their pictures is like a hug to me, I don’t mind admitting.

I prize the old photos that my grandparents had in their home, especially ones of my dad as a child. I took for granted how I’d see these pictures across the mantle of their home, and then placed on various tables in the living room. The familiarity of just knowing they were going to be there every weekend to see when I walked in the door was comforting

Because I was only in my twenties when my dad died, I know I think about these kinds of things more than most people my age. And because I am a big fan of Apple computers and phones, I know firsthand what happens if you delete a photo from your phone, and how you can delete it from your iCloud and, well, you know the feeling when you see images that are important to destroyed when “surface water” finds its way to a photo album in a box in the garage after a hurricane level rain?

Photos are the paper versions of people and places that have made a permanent imprint upon our heart. Therefore, let’s take every opportunity we can to make hard-copy prints of old and new photos for our relatives who may want to keep up with genealogy. And, let’s spend some time visiting with them and hearing family stories that get passed down between generations. And, it’s okay to use your phone to video your family telling the stories of their youth as that will make it even better 30, 40 and 50 years from now. But—by all means—back up your videos! There’s no such thing as having too many backups when it comes to precious memories.

I hope you’ll share a multiple generation photo of your family and share how many generations in your photo. If you don’t have one that you can find readily, maybe give thought to taking a few at the next possible opportunity that you all have to be together. They will come to mean so much in years to come. And then, keep those precious photos safely stored or displayed away from harmful elements! You’ll be so glad you did!