What Are We Leaving Behind?

April 23, 2012

I take a million photos like the rest of us and often I wonder what really is the point after the momentary pleasure of sharing them? What do we do with our digital photos ultimately? We may blog or pin them or perhaps print one or two out occasionally, but after that they often fade into the Instagram sunset or fall into the archives on our blog. Thankfully there are ways to keep your memories front and center. Have you thought to make a few photo books? It may sound a bit grandma to even say that in this digital age but I often wonder what we’re leaving behind. When my grandmother passed away before I relocated from the US to Germany in 2009, the first thing my mother said was that I should take something to remember her by. Do you know what I took? Her photo album.

What Are We Leaving Behind?

Why a photo album? Not only for the photos but for the memories I have looking at them as we’d talk and eat in the living room or crammed into my grandparents kitchen around the table. I remember excitedly looking at their albums as grandma whipped up something homemade in the kitchen, breads and sauces that filled the air and made our mouths water. She’d pop in between stirs to tell us a little tale pointing to a photo or to simply sit beside me as the oven made magic asking if I knew who this or that person was and to always add how young she once was or that she wished she still had her red hair minus the grays. I looked at the same albums over and over again, seeing the same photos, hearing the same stories, yet the comfort and coziness of those moments were some of the best times that I spent with my grandparents growing up. My grandfather would sit in his designated chair with his own stories and often, he’d drag out another album and still another until dinner was ready. This started when I was very young and way into my late twenties. Now they are gone but the moment I take out their photo album with the retro floral cover, I am transported back to times when my little heart yearned to be all grown up and to have memories of my own to share with my family.

What Are We Leaving Behind?

I guess photo album browsing in my generation was the equivalent of families sitting around today with their iPads and phones texting and browsing photos in their digital albums. Or is it? I feel so disconnected lately when friends I’m dining with pull out their phones to text or take a non-urgent call when we’re together. I feel worse when I was in the states recently and spotted entire families out to dinner using their phones while ignoring one another. And it’s not just an American thing, manners are dying everywhere and I am saddened when sending a tweet or text is more important than connecting with those seated before us. Where are the conversations going, the ones I had as a child with my family, and what are they being replaced with?

What Are We Leaving Behind?

It seems more and more are living inside of their own heads and locked away in their own digital playgrounds versus dealing with the reality of what’s around them. Don’t you agree? On our phones for instance, we can ignore a text or reply when we’re ready to have that conversation or worse, pretend to be fine when we’re angry, disconnect when things feel uncomfortable, walk away when fed up, ignore people, it’s entirely possible to pull the plug on anyone at anytime online and then say later that we got busy or pulled away from our phone or computer. In real life, our conversations flow and the back-and-forth exchange is a bit like a game of tennis, questions are asked, answers are given, eye contact is made, a touch on the arm, a warm endearing gaze… You lose all of that completely when your interactions are mostly online. When seated in my grandparents living room, I had to answer their questions immediately – even the uncomfortable ones. I had to sit through their long explanations that would sometimes leave me rolling my eyes. I couldn’t put my iPhone down and text them back later (so to speak), when I may have ‘felt’ like it. I digress…

What Are We Leaving Behind?

This brings me back to photo albums and the digital age in general – what will we leave behind? How can we have the best of both worlds? When I die someday and my grandchildren ask what they want that belonged to me, will they ask for my external hard drive so they can see my photos? Or my iPhone or iPad? Will they ask for anything at all that will connect them to me and me to them in that very special way? Will they remember the conversations we had, the food I cooked, the time we spent on nature walks or will in the way that I can connect with my grandparents in a deeply emotional manner the moment I pick up their photo album? Will they ask to see granny’s blog called decor8? In fact, this was ultimately what gave me the final push to write a book so I could have something tangible to leave behind. For me, having a blog and having a book IS the best of both worlds. How do you balance both – how are you making the best of both worlds in your life?

What Are We Leaving Behind?

With that, I want to tell you about something in print (I know, oh my gosh, PRINT) that I think is just awesome because it encourages children and parents to create, interact and share their digital photos in a meaningful way that involves something called real human contact around a kitchen table or on the sofa. The creation of a physical photo album. These albums are by Paislee Press and I just love them. The formats are fresh and inspiring and I like that you can introduce children to layout and design through them at a young age because you can involve them in the making process digitally (which kids love) BUT they can see it and hold it in PRINT (which I love) afterwards. Then you have the best of both worlds and you are usually digital technology in the way I feel it should be used – to further connect and inspire us not to isolate and separate us which is sadly happening all too often.

What are your thoughts on all of this, anyway? It’s a bit deep for a Monday morning but important to think about because I am consistently seeking ways to find balance online and wonder how you are doing with this so feel free to share… Maybe something you say may spark an idea in those reading your comment.

(images: paislee press)


  • Reply Jess April 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Having lost my grandmother last year, and with my dad sick with cancer, I’ve certainly thought a lot about legacies recently.

    I love that my parent’s house has a mantelpiece that is full of family photos that go right back to when my grandparents were young newlyweds. Seeing their fresh happy faces always brings a smile to me… but it’s also a reminder of my own mortality, which is something we can so easily avoid these days, I think.

    Part of what I love about the work I do now (selling my silver jewellery and publishing a print zine) is that I feel like I am leaving a tangible legacy. The work I did before was always very cerebral, and I never quite felt like I was ‘leaving a mark’ so to speak.

    I have a feeling that there might be a bit of a revival of the ‘photo album’ in years to come…. and I for one will take part whole-heartedly!

  • Reply Jane April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Oh Holly, this post resonates with me so deeply. My mum always took photos of us growing up and used to joke they were the only valuable thing we had in our house if a thief came looking.

    Whilst I enjoy the digital age, I still need to have that tangible album to open. I used to print out photos at the end of every month. Now with 3 littlies under 7, I’ve fallen about 2 years behind. But I am going to make the effort and catch up so the children can have those memories about which you refer to so fondly.

    One other thing my grandmother did was to write on the backs of the photos. It’s so time-consuming but brilliant when 100 years later, I can find out the names of the subjects and when it was taken. Something else for my ‘to do’ list! J x

  • Reply tinajo April 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    It worries me sometimes that all 10000´s of pics I take rarely gets printed… I´ve been planning to make more photo books (so far I´ve only made one of a vacation we took) – but it´s one of those things that are easily postponed unfortunately. I really should get to it at once!

  • Reply sandra lund April 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I agree with you regarding the manners, one morning sitting in the bus I saw a mother with her maybe 4 year old son ( taking him to kindergarden I presume) listening to her ipod with earplugs in her ears, I felt sorry for the boy, even though he was sitting right next to her, there was this barrier between them.
    I enjoy looking at old photos, and I think even more now that they are digitalized. When we go see my family-in-law we always share pictures (by picasa) afterwards, and I often get new ones printed. When I only had them on print before it took more effort to take them out and get them re-sized and such, but now I see them on my desktop on my pc, share them on my blog, share them via picasa and often revisit the digital albums on my ipad with my family.

  • Reply Ellie Kelly April 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I loved this blog, even on a Monday morning :-)

    When my Nan passed, all the family sat in her living room and looked though her photos. Some i remember her telling me about and some non of us had ever seen before. I so wish I had been able to ask her about those ones.

    I used to always have a photo album on the go and even made them for friends special birthdays by getting in contact with there friends and families and collecting photos from when they were children but I haven’t done this in years now.

    This blog has inspired me to swap some of my timeline watching to creating some lovely albums.

    P.s looking forward to the e-course announcement

  • Reply frauheuberg April 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    what a lovley post, Holly…and you’re so right with everything you say. Our present time is so fast, the young communicate only via Internet and mobile phones. The intimacy of the conversation is lost and those special moments in which we are so close to our love ones are also lost. My mum give me every year for my birthday or other parties little photo albums with a record of the family. They are my very special treasures …and my younger sister have had this wonderful idea to give our parents a book in which they could write all the memories for the grandchildren…i love these books and this idea, mabye you want to have a look…here

    memory book for grandchildren

    thanks for this thoughtful post, all your words and inspirations…always so fine to read your blog…thanks, dear friend and have a wonderful creative week…all the best and hope we see us very soon again…a big hug…cheers and hugs…i…

  • Reply caroline April 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    These albums are just wonderful Holly. I have all my favourite drawings of the kids since they first started to paint-safely in one place, but as yet not put into giant scrap books. This has spurred me on to do it before the task gets too daunting! And don’t forget to date everything too! It’s such a lovely idea to combine the artwork with the photos-I’ve also got a little pink book which I carry around with me to make a note and date of every funny little thing the kids have said, so I can add them in with the pics and photos too. Two of my favourites are-‘Mummy, whoever built all these long, straight roads must be very tired’-Evie age 3 and ‘Mummy, where does milk come from?’-to which Gabriel replied-‘The fridge!’ !!
    Caroline x

  • Reply Kate April 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Holly I adore this post! As creatives, I think we are by nature very ‘visual’. What a great way to display photos in a really inspirational way

  • Reply Rhi April 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    I’ve been meaning to do this for so long! I think I’ll make it a holiday project over winter :)

  • Reply Ariana April 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Holly, I actually think about these issues a lot. I spend more time on the computer than I want to… I have hardly put anything in my daughter’s baby book, which was beautifully made by a family member. Yet, I started a blog before she was born, where I tracked so much more than I ever would have in that book. Blogging is so idea in many ways, but it still feels very distant. I cannot hold it in my hands.
    My grandma also made really wonderful photo albums, and whenever I visit her, my favorite thing to do is to look through them. I don’t know if there is anything more valuable to leave behind, honestly. The stories and images show me where I came from, and that is invaluable.
    I really like the idea of creating books from all that we have stored online. We have been doing a lot of traveling, and we started when my daughter had just turned four. I wonder how much she will remember. I think I’d like to make many books about her and how she is experiencing the world at each stage. Thanks for this encouragement!

  • Reply miss retro nest April 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I am ashamed to say I have not had one photo printed on decent photo paper since I bought my digital camera many years ago. I have the skills to make lovely photo albums , yet I don’t. All my memories are on cds and usbs. When I think about it, it’s so depressing :S

    Sometimes we need a little reminder of to put us back into gear. Seeing those albums from paislee press has inspired me to get going again on the photo album project I planned on doing years ago.

  • Reply Ruth Crean April 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I have a photo album but the photos came to an abrupt halt about 6 years ago when I got a digital camera. Because we can see photos as soon as we take them, there isn’t the excitement to see them developed.

    I think it’s a lovely idea to write on the back of the photos and will help future generations piece together the stories of our lives in a real and yet magical way.

    Friends of mine got so jaded with the seemingly frenzied, but ultimately hallow communication online that they unplugged, deleting their facebook and twitter accounts. I commend their commitment, and somewhat envy their black and white approach, but I don’t think I would want to do it myself.

  • Reply Shelly April 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I am so moved by your post, Molly. I love photo albums and have borrowed all of my Mum’s so I can scan them into my computer and print some off to make my own photo book or album but also so that I can restore the photos. I have five brothers and sisters and although I don’t want to think about it, one day my Mum will die. As the eldest the photo albums should go to me, but I don’t want us all to argue about it. At least by scanning them to my hard drive I can then provide a full copy of the photos to each of my siblings to avoid some arguing…
    At home though, my husband, Jay, and I insist that we have some family time together with the kids without computers or phones etc getting in the way EVERY day. We eat dinner together and chat about how our day was and any other inane subject that pops up. After dinner we watch a DVD together (a TV series on a school night; a film at the weekends and holidays). We always take the time to make sure everyone is OK and isn’t worrying about anything. If they have a worry, the kids know they can talk to us either together or separately. I may only be their step-mum, but I love them as if they were my own and they love and trust me too. I hope that we can impress upon them how important human contact is so that they bring that to their own family life when they have children.
    Phew! Sorry that was such a long one! Maybe I should have blogged about it!

  • Reply Shelly April 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Sorry – I typo’d your name! I meant Holly, not Molly!

  • Reply Elle April 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    WOW – what a great post! And all so true. The digital age is so exciting and blogging, digital photos and ipads are all on my top 20 list but I have recently started my own photo album – you know the printed kind.
    I am using the Project Life stuff by Becky Higgins and it is great because it allows you scrapbook your photos adding in some journaling but all quickly and easily. I take a photo every day and then I add notes and other interesting stuff. I love it and only three weeks in it has already amazed me the reaction my two year old has had to it. He loves to turn the pages – point out the funny ones and instead of only discussing my snapshots with my facebook friends Aston and I now sit down at the end of the week and talk about all the cool things we did together.

    check out my friend Sarah’s blog to see what I mean about Project Life.

    Oh and because prints are 10c each I have started getting two sets of everything so Mr 2 can keep one set and show his friends, pop pics inside his books and under his pillow (whatever the case may be) Its lovely to see him interacting with tangible memories!

  • Reply Shelly April 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Actually, I decided I would write a post of my own about it – thank you for the inspiration!

  • Reply Holly April 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    My mother was very disciplined with photo albums until I was about 20. Like you, I have memories of sitting around and looking at those albums with my family for the 100th time, telling the same stories and feeling good. I do cherish those memories and those books. Since moving to Germany (2 1/2 yrs ago), I have’t seen those books because they’re at my mom’s house in Canada and my visits in between have been so hectic, that we haven’t had time to look at them.

    Last week, my husband and I looked at some photo books that belonged to his grandmother. She was also very disciplined with her photo albums. We picked four random ones – 1955, 1968, 1978 and 1987. We spent the whole afternoon remembering things, asking questions about the past, learning things, feeling things. After we closed the last album, I felt so strange, like I’d been in a time warp, a journey through a time that is no longer. It felt strange, powerful, larger than me … good. I realized the power of what his grandmother left behind. It was really apparent with these books since they went so far back in time.

    I decided then that I would make an effort soon to create some photo books.

    Now I read this post! It feels like a sign from I-don’t-know-where!

    I think about all the things you mention here, Holly. What are we leaving behind, how are our social interactions changing. But like you, photo albums have been an important part of my life. A revival seems to be in order :)

    Thanks for this post Xx.

  • Reply Casa e Cose April 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Totally agree with you on all points. My son is almost 5 and i have managed to do his album of actuall photos for his first 6 months only! Then there are just too many photos and too little time BUT I am working on the little films we have of him/ us so far. So that will be on a DVD that we can look at.

    I think phones should be banned on restraurants. They are at this VIP club in London i heard of where all kinds of people belong: from Madonna to who knows. And phones are banned. I hate it when you eat together and the other person is just texting texting or surfing. I hate it. Maybe cause i cant do it with my old brink heavy mobile phone but still…..

    I totally agree with you on everything! Bravo!

  • Reply rosaundlimone April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    What a wonderful post! We understand your thoughts and your are right, that it is a fine line in this online community with all this publicity and all the photos and pins. I habe two kids (1 and 4 years old) and I try to create both of them photo albums, because it is a wonderful memory and gift for the whole life.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!!!! Cheers and hugs

  • Reply Daniel - Let me be inspired April 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Hi, hope the weekend was great!! Love the pictures! I acually have made a image book for my sons first birthday – which is coming up now in May! Have a great day!!

  • Reply DawnS April 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Holly…I love Paislee Press (and the book that Liz created is gorgeous). Thanks so much for sharing…and for giving us inspiration to take our pictures off of our computers!

  • Reply Gretchen April 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this post. I totally agree with what you are saying. I make sure that when my family sits down for family time, that cell phones are silenced, and we can just focus on each other, not the outside distractions of the world. I have printed several family photo albums using Shutterfly books, because at the end of the day, I love looking through books filled with photos. The digital world is great, put there is certainly something special about surrounding yourself with beautiful photos of your family in lovely frames and books. I hope that my boys will one day treasure all the frames and photo books that I have created!

  • Reply Ashley {GirlyObsessions} April 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I agree Holly. I always have goals of making photo books but never do. I made one of my wedding for my parents, and I’ve made some of our vacations, but have never had them printed. But I am always looking for new services, and Paislee Press seems to be a great option to add to my list. Maybe I’ll finally get around to printing some albums….

  • Reply Emily April 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Gasp! What a gorgeous album! And your thoughts are timely. I think about these things, too, which is one reason I became a writer—-though I do wonder what books will look like—and how many will be left—in the coming years. I’m not anti e-book, but they do have a lack of permanence, and permanence was what brought me to books in the first place. Photos—I’m trying to finish making some print albums of our recent adventures—somehow it feels our years in Germany may feel “erased” otherwise. My kids love to watch family videos best, though. I’m planning to frame the best photos and hang in our “old” house, too. Phones—we recently had dinner with friends and made a tower of cell phones in the center of the table to keep us from browsing —fun!

  • Reply Mariella April 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I enjoyed this post so much ,I am also thinking about this a lot. I even thought about stopping using social media altogether because as far as I am concerned I don’t really see the point in spending time updating my profile with silly tweets about what I ate or if it’s raining or not when I could be spending more quality time with my kids for example. The Internet is a wonderful world but it’s easy to lose the sense of balance.Same goes for I pad , iphones and co. And I would love to make a photo album, thanks for sharing this one.

  • Reply Sarah April 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Its funny Holly, I just asked a friend the other day, ‘what do I do with all my photos?’ They are in storage and I want to keep them but they are in various boxes detailing pieces of my life for many years. I do have some albums that were put together years ago, but, I will need to do something. My friend simply said: ‘put them in albums!’ What a brilliant idea! So that’s my plan – to put them somewhere I can take them out and enjoy them from time to time. It will be a project, but a worthwhile project don’t you think?

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente April 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I always think about what my girls will want to keep when I am not here anymore. What will be special to them, hold as many memories or make them feel loved, safe and happy when they hold it in their hands. It often dictates what I buy or save or create. It is so important….and an amazing conversation to have. thanks for bringing it up hunnie!

  • Reply Janelle April 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Holly, thank you so much for this post and sharing your thoughts on this. I have to admit that I’m guilty of being too glued to my phone (email, the internet, texting, tweeting, etc.) when in the presence of others, and this post made me realize even more how important it is to move away from that and enjoy the company of my friends and family. It’s such an overused line, but life really is too short. I’ve been thinking for a while now about starting up Project Life after being inspired by others that are doing it, and I keep pushing it off for some reason. I really have no photos in print or even a blog to document what’s been going on in my life for the past several years, and it makes me sad to think that I’ll have nothing to share with my children and grandchildren. I think it’s time to start!

  • Reply Improv Sewing April 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    The cut-and-paste collaged photo albums I made to document the first few years of my marriage are the things I would grab if our house every caught fire. I’m so glad i took that time then to make them…and only wish i had take the time to do the same with more recent photos of my son. Thanks for this inspiring post–maybe I’ll try this solution instead. These albums are gorgeous.

  • Reply Susanne April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    ..you can smile now, but I still have photo albums, not currently but beloved. for me – because I love paper next to the digital world and perhaps to show it to grandchildren..? if you have the feeling someday it could be missing something ..listen to you even it sounds ‘out’ warm regards susanne

  • Reply iHanna April 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    What a wonderful post! I so agree with you that it’s absolutely lovely to have something like a photo album or book to look through. It’s easier to share some selected photos than the whole hard drive overflowing with doucments and photo folder. :-)

    I made a photo book of 2008 and printed it through Blurb, and I love it! I so want to make the following and even previous years but it does take time when you want to edit, layout and find order among the folders too. Thanks for a great post!

  • Reply Angela April 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I love this post — it’s something I think about all the time. I used to be so diligent with printing out photos and putting them in albums … but over the past couple years that’s completely fallen by the wayside. I do wonder what will happen to all these photo memories, and imagine a lot will simply disappear. Since my blog is basically an online journal, I turn it into a blog book each year. It’s time consuming, but totally worth it. Also, for my son’s birthdays each year, I make them an annual photo book. My oldest just turned 10, and was thrilled that the book was something he still couldn’t wait to get.

  • Reply Lucy April 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I love old photographs … I’ve got books and books of them that belonged to my grandmother and I love looking at them. Our photo albums have tailed off a lot since we started using digital cameras (although the number of photos has exploded!) but I do try to make sure that I print some off to put in the scrapbook – I keep one for each year – and the children and I love looking through them …. it helps keep the memories fresh, and it’s so much fun listening to them talk about their personal histories and how they remember the events and people in our albums. Lovely post …. thank you :-)

  • Reply Veridiana April 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    I love leaving books and albums!
    Around Eastern I started to make little photo-books from my different creative folders.
    I love them and use them much more often than digital.
    For our nowegian grandma I made a big photobook with all her postcards and stamps, she sent for our children from all around the world.
    In my next workshop I´m going to scrap a kitchen-album to share all my kitchen secrets with my children and I´m touched by thinking that they use it in their student appartments! (one thing I´m leaving behind!)
    Lieben Gruß…

  • Reply leslie April 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    What a perfect post Holly. I love albums and I love making the apple iphoto albums from my digital library. Everyone looks at them and they have become some of my most treasured items.

  • Reply Gutsy Arts Girl April 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    SO funny to read this today as all weekend I have been noticing the isolation of people from one another. Whether they are at the restaurant together – just the “two of them!”, or employees with nothing else to do than to sit down together and turn on their phones and watch vids etc…or FAMILIES who can’t share a meal together without NET working. HOLY TAMALES! And I being a tech loving person am beginning to long just for a couple girlfriends, who show up to my house, drink real not virtual coffee, and hug me cause they love me.
    I appreciate your article today. I am doing a lot of thinking about this. What actions do I want to take? (photo album a great idea by the way…how new, how quaint, how retro!!!) :-)

  • Reply City Chic - Jamie April 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    This is a wonderful post Holly! I was just thinking of how I haven’t been good at keeping up with printing pictures or making books for the past few years. I purchased a new camera over the weekend and am having so much fun learning (my first SLR). It definitely makes me want to get back to printing my favorite ones and make some type of memory book.

    As far as been on phones while dining with friends – I say whoever picks up their phone has to pick up the bill! I had a wonderful breakfast with four friends this weekend and not one of us picked up our phone during our time together, nothing was said about it – I think it was just a symbol of our respect for our time together. I realize some people don’t have the same value, but I feel it is so important to have a break from the phone and have real conversation with people – without being distracted by a device. Thanks for bringing this up Holly! xoxo

  • Reply Tracey Fisher April 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    The state of my photos and albums always weighs heavily on me. My daughters have been caught in the middle of starting out with the traditional prints and having digital about 6 years in. It is hard to archive this properly. A few years ago I started creating a printed album through sites like apple and archived our visits down south with my father. (Although I only made one copy – maybe I should make 2) Thank you so much for the link to the mini masterpieces. In the end I realize it is being able to look at the memory – some artwork etc. not really the actual piece and not EVERYTHING. It is probably the thing I think about the most. Making sure I record the memories but not letting it take over living in the moment. I still haven’t figured it all out but this just reminds me I need to take baby steps forward before the molehill turns into a mountain. (Okay – I guess it really already has)

  • Reply Kimberly Senn April 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    My husband and I were just talking about this over the weekend! We try to print a photo book every year right around our anniversary – we’re coming up on year 5 this October! We’ve done a few “special editions” for my son’s first year and mother’s day last year. Creating the books is time consuming, but totally worth it. We’ve also just committed to loosening the grip on our iPhones to become more present with each other, our families and the people around us. Bad habits can be broken, it will just take a little practice!

  • Reply dervla @ The Curator April 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I love this post! I have panic attacks over all the different places my photographs are stored (facebook, instagram, twitter, iphone, computer etc) and wish i could just combine them into one. I have all of these grand ideas about creating a wall of photographs or trying to do a photo book at the end of each year and then poof, another year goes by and I haven’t done it. I need to stop overthinking it and just pick the best shots and put them together.

  • Reply kalanicut April 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Such good thoughts Holly. You are so right. I have always kept a written journal but you inspire me to keep a visual one too. We have so many photos we’ve taken the past few years and I would love to have them in a book. You inspired me too that I should take all these piles of my soon-to-be stepdaughter’s art and have a book made for her with it. She would love that and what a beautiful historical treasure she would have for her life. Good new projects to add to my list!

  • Reply Lindsay April 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    i absolutely couldn’t agree more. i have a 3-year old and i often think about how “disconnected” kids are growing up nowadays. seeing everyone “plugged in” all the time is very depressing. although im guilty of it too, i think there needs to be a major shift in our interactions with other people. people are meant to be paid attention to, nurtured, to be touched, talked to face-to-face. there are huge elements of the human connection that are lacking in recent days. thank you for sharing your opinions, because i know there are many people who feel the same way!

    another awesome site for turning your digital prints into a masterpiece is mixbook.com. i wont even get into detail about it, but its defintiely worth checking out! i used them to create my wedding guest book, as well as other projects for friends and family; super user-friendly and so much room for personalization and creativity!

  • Reply Julia Ronmark-Chalifoux April 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Hi Holly,
    I loved your post.
    I love technology – the freedom it gives me to have a mobile office, to explore creatively and the ability it affords me to get my work, my opinions and ideas out there. Having said that, and having just had a birthday in the digital age…I must say – I missed the phone calls and mailed cards from old friends. Today it seems that we can all keep up with one another…we just don’t need to see or talk to one another!
    The books you posted are beautiful. My sister and I are currently in the process of planning a 40th wedding anniversary party for my parents…and are looking forward to creating a book for them. How great to find 40 years of memories all in one place!

  • Reply Michele April 23, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Yes! Holly I agree 100% with everything you said. The physical photo album issue really hit home with me several years ago. My parents were reaching their 50th wedding anniversary and my mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Her health prodded me to put an album together and to NOT PROCRASTINATE. My parents LOVED the album, which made me very happy. But sadly, my father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly about 6 months after I gave them the album. I was SO THANKFUL I had put it together right away and that he had time to enjoy it. Now my mother is gone too, and the album has come back to me. I treasure it! I will leave it for my children (who were pretty young when their grandpa died and their grandma was distanced by Alzheimer’s) to help them remember their grandparents.

    Like some other posters, my kids straddle the non-digital/digital eras for photos. In their early years, I was very conscientious about printing photos and sticking them into albums (nothing fancy or pretty, but I did take time to write names and dates on the backs of photos.) But since switching to digital photography, I have fallen WAY behind! It is overwhelming because there are just too many photos! I have been trying to do scrapbooks, but it is slow going. You are providing much-needed inspiration! Thank you!

  • Reply May April 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Love love love Paislee Press and her style of memory keeping. She does amazing Project Life-album also.

  • Reply Sarah April 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Love your post, Holly! And you are so right!

    My husband and I have been talking about wanting to go back to ‘real’ pictures/albums because those are the ones you always come back to and which you show to family and friends (also because the amount of pictures is more limited and manageable, I think). So the first step for me would be to take less pictures again so that there’s less to choose from…

    And I do love my iphone but I also find it so incredibly sad seeing people sitting down or having a meal together and all just playing with their phones…

  • Reply Bouboulette April 23, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Very cute !
    Love this idea !!

  • Reply Meredith D. April 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Oh, thank goodness for this post. Thank you for making me feel like I am not alone in my appreciation for printed photos!

    When you think back over the past 200, 100, even past 5 or 10 years – the *only* technology that has endured has been print (yes, at one time it was new technology). With digital formats changing faster than ever, it’s the only way to make sure an image will last.

    Thank you also for reminding me to continue my project to print out every digital picture I’ve taken, since I’ve lapsed on it recently. :)

  • Reply Sarade April 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Yes, I cannot live without physical photo albums. They are so much more accessible and a pleasure to look at!

  • Reply Kristin Johnsen April 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    This is so timely, Holly – I just completed a blog this week about the intersection of technology and art! But this was great that you tackled this subject. I’m with you – I still think its rude for someone to take a call when they are at the dinner table with real people! And now I feel less dorky about putting together special photo albums in hard copy. Of vacations or other special events. Though I must say, i chuckled thinking of handing over a jump drive to children at the end of my life!!! Thanks for weighing in on this subject!,

  • Reply Silvia April 23, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I loved your post today Holly. I was thinking along the same lines as I am working on a memory book for my 3 yr old daughter at the moment. I love technology and have all my photos on my mac BUT it’s absolutely not the same thing as sitting with an album on your lap. I make a 12 x 12 scrapbook memory book for both my kids each year (well, currently doing 2010 so running a little behind !) I don’t do conventional scrapbooking at all but i use the scrapbooks because they limit me as to how many photos i can use and I like the size. I make one for a whole year, month by month, and really just make each page a collage of photos, comments, stickers, bits and pieces from school, letters, scrapbook papers. My kids absolutely love having them and often ask to sit down and go through them with us. I have started making an annual family album on Shutterfly too and i love that we have physical albums to look at – and actually it doesn’t take long at all to do. Thanks so much for showing these gorgeous Paisley Press albums too – now i’m all inspired to make one for their artwork instead of stuffing everything into a giant folder like i have been doing ! x

  • Reply Cyn | decyng April 23, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    On one hand, You are right when you talked about the phones and a family or friend meeting. It´s not only in USA, it´s all over the world I think. At least that happens here in Argentina. My cellphone is an old one, it doesn´t have internet conection, so I rarely be with it all the time but it´s common to see my friends, in meetings, that they leave their bag for example, but always takes the phone with them. And they constantly pick it and I don´t know what they do, but they are always doing something with it. It makes you feel that they don´t want to be there.

    On the other hand is this digital era in which we are living. I remember when digital cameras didn´t exist, that you took pictures and run to the kodak center because you want to see what have you took, how were them. Nowadays it´s instantly. You look, you push the bottom, you see the pictures. And automatically you forget them, because you take more and more. We need to get concious about it and start printing photos, at least, the most representatives of each moment o event. Al least to have or leave memories to the next generations.

  • Reply tina April 23, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Holly thanks for sharing about Paislee Press. How great is that large format? Those kids drawings and photos look wonderful.

    For years I’ve been using Apple and Blurb.com and one or two others for making digital photos. Must give Paislee Press a go.

    Hope you are well.

  • Reply Patti Trostle April 24, 2012 at 12:49 am

    You are so right. What meant the most to me from my grandparents and parents. I am as guilty as the next person having most everything on the computer or CD’s. I am going to make a point to print out pics to leave behind for my son! Thank you so much for the reminder of what is very important!!

  • Reply Jill Marlow April 24, 2012 at 1:46 am

    The niceness of being able to have both digital images saved on a computer as well as more charming and heartfelt photo logs to share for generations to come is so important. I say this so strongly because my family’s home caught on fire 6 months ago. We lost all family pictures, albums and scrapbooks that we owned. Luckily with the help of other family members and friends we have been able to accumulate a number of pictures. I have never appreciated the ability to save pictures on sources that can be retrieved over the internet, hard drives and technological sources more than I do this day. But, my heart is thankful for the old printed pictures that my close friends and family have passed along our way. The comfort of building a new scrapbook, one that can tangibly be passed down is priceless.

  • Reply Erin April 24, 2012 at 1:50 am

    It’s so true. So many people don’t even bother printing pictures anymore. I remember when I used to go to my grandma’s house and we’d open up the old crackin picture books and you could smell how old they were and it just made it feel so much more real. I love love love the internet and the technology these days but the simple art of holding it in your hands I feel, much like you, is dying and it’s sad to see it dwindle away. I still print pictures that mean something to me and want to hold onto every memory.

  • Reply Bruno April 24, 2012 at 1:56 am

    It’s just nice to take picture and share them!

  • Reply Bonnie McCarthy April 24, 2012 at 2:23 am

    Love this idea!! My mom just retired and she plans on devoting some of her new free time to putting together the albums she always wanted. I don’t want to wait that long, and plan to find more time in the now! Thanks for the reminder!!

  • Reply Laura Gaskill April 24, 2012 at 2:55 am

    What a heartfelt post, Holly – and I am right there with you! The photos and stories and worn paper and the smell of cooking and the sound of our loved ones voices all becomes so intermingled in memory…it’s wonderful to have something physical to hold onto to bring that all back. Now that I am a mom myself, I do think a lot about what I can do to give my son the same feeling, and honestly I haven’t made the time to do some of the things I would like, so I am really glad you brought this up.

    Like Leslie above, I think iphoto albums are so easy to order for those of us not inclined to make scrapbooks, and they look gorgeous. I also think any handmade treasures, whether hand-sewn clothes, knitting, paper crafts, handwritten recipes or letters on actual paper (gasp!) or anything else made by hand and given with love carries a lot of emotional weight. xoxo Laura

  • Reply Corinne April 24, 2012 at 3:11 am

    When I first switched to digital photography (it took me awhile) I was very diligent about getting my photos printed, until I realised that was excessive (and realistically would require a lot of storage space). Now I regularly design my own photobooks and I am really happy with them. I recently did one for our honeymoon where I included my diary entries taken on the trip. It all felt a bit strange, but my motivation was how much I would have loved something like this of my grandparents (who passed away when I was young), so hopefully my future grandchildren will think the same thing.

  • Reply Suzanne K April 24, 2012 at 5:12 am

    This post was just BRILLIANT and sums up just about everything I have been thinking about lately.
    I am a digital photo JUNKIE but lately have been wondering – what for? I also have fond memories of going through my family’s old photo albums. Yet I never print out my own photos anymore. Sometimes I think it’s due to the fact that I don’t have kids, and no plans for any, so I end up asking myself – why bother? But lately I’ve been thinking I’d like to go back to printing my photos, just because – it’s nice to sit down with a photo album and reminisce.
    Just like I think I’ll always prefer to curl up with a good book, not an e-reader.

  • Reply Alexis April 24, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I have noticed how much more “difficult” it seems to be to make photo albums. I’m trying, but I forget and it’s always harder to print or order photos and stick them in a book than it is to just keep them on my phone. But I think it’s so important to have a hard copy, plus you can make them more fun looking than phone browsing.

  • Reply deb April 24, 2012 at 9:17 am

    print is great and now you can design so many different photo books online and get them printed its just brilliant. Why keep those treasured moments on the computer? Its meant to stir up emotions and love for generations so im all for it! infact im busy doing one right now of a special holiday in Spain in december just passed. xxx

  • Reply Yeshen April 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I absolutely agree we are in danger of loosing a tangible archive of photography, both in the form of printed images in albums but also framed prints in the home. I find the idea (and look) of ‘digital photo frames’ that scroll through pictures horrible.

    In the UK, Boots do good value prints from an SD card or CD, especially good value if you get 100s printed.

    I’ve recently started shooting 35mm film alongside my digital work because I also value the unexpected results from a manual film camera, digital tends to look very much how you expect it, but film gives a special quality in it’s grain and tonal range. I would especially recommend Ilford XP2 film, a B/w stock that goes through a colour process resulting in a wonderful sepia print.

  • Reply Kinga April 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    This post is such a sweet reminder of how much of a treasure photo albums are. I definitely need to make more of an effort to get books done…I’ve used Blurb in the past as well as Apple to get books printed and they have really become inexpensive over the years and quality is amazing. I love the size and feel of that Paislee Press book in the photos above….definitely have to check them out! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply becky April 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Everything you touched on I agree with whole-heartedly. Sometimes putting these books together overwhelms me, and I’m terrible about backing up and worry about losing my dis-organized, now numbered in the thousands, photos, which is ironic, because it’s easier than ever to put them together and have professional photo albums put together without the need for plastic sleeves, those little corner stickers or the glue stick.

    As for the phones, I try to make my friends put them away when we’re gathered, but often, I feel like I’d have more of their attention if I were at home texting them instead of sitting across the table from them! The worst is when I am making conversation by asking a question and they whip out their iPhones to find the answer online (“Look at the baby eagles I follow!” “Oh the Braves are winning!” “OMG, check out deedee’s facebook status!” “Kanye is tweeting about fur pillows again”) (OK, I admit, that last one would make me laugh) . Then I’ve lost them as it leads them down the rabbit trail to looking at everything else on there. Or maybe I’m just a boring meal companion? Ah, nah, that couldn’t possibly be true :)

  • Reply Nicola April 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Loved this! I’ve been wondering, too, lately – how all of this technology will impact our ability to communicate face to face; our relationships. Aside from the annoyance of trying to have conversations with people who spend the entire time checking their phones or jumping at the slightest ‘ping’ with the ‘I just need to get this’ excuse, it makes me uneasy in many ways about the future – our need for constant distraction and the ability to disconnect from reality at any time. I went on a fieldtrip with my four year old son last week – all the moms were sitting around staring at their iphones.

  • Reply dawn April 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    amen sister!!

    i love the albums and was just thinking about doing something very similar with my daughters drawings and my photos of her when she was little…now she is 16.

    you are so right holly…we need to connect much more face to face

    xx i see what blog post is connected to this and it speaks exactly to what you are saying… :)

  • Reply Valentina April 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Wauu this post rock it Holly, so many comments…! I love it to, cause this is the “problem” i ama thinking on offten. I love taking photos, specialy my kids and ofcourse we have tons of photos. I do usualy arange them in clasik photo albums, cause we love to look them. Specially in the winter time, when we love to remember our summer holidays :).
    Thanks so much for shareing this, I love, love, love this photo book and Im so going to order one.

  • Reply da men magazine April 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    good design

  • Reply the chronic utilitarian April 26, 2012 at 3:17 am

    holly, i love this post.

    i just finished my thesis which is a comparative study in communication of the printed postcard and twitter. technology has made me start wearing my watch again. if only i had a dollar for everytime i have checked my cell for the time…

  • Reply Emily April 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I’m a little late to this see this post, but I love it. I’ve had this weird feeling lately that I can’t focus when I’m speaking with people face to face – it’s too much technology all the time. This was such a good reminder. Thank you.

  • Reply patricia April 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Love it! This post gives me so much to think about—or should I say rethink? We are definitely one of those families that fights to keep a balance. Some people don’t realize that a simple routine meal at the dinner table is SO key. As far as work is concerned I’m happy that a HUGE part of what I do is physical (paper everywhere!) and outside the digital world. That’s what keeps me balanced during the day when I’m on my own. I wouldn’t change that at all!

  • Reply Chrystina April 28, 2012 at 2:37 am

    We may be getting away from traditional photo albums, but something that we’ve picked up along the way is more of an “a day in the life” mentality with instagram and flickr and iphones. So if we make photobooks from some of these pictures, I think we can actually create something really awesome to pass onto other generations – something that shows our typical day to day and what that looks like. I’d love to know what my grandparents typical days look like, or even my parents for that matter.

    Now we just have to get to the point where people print things like that.

    As for iphones at the dinner table… I’m guilty of that one myself. Sometimes you just need an escape. But next time I pick it up, I will consider that I am losing valuable face to face time with somebody that I probably care about. We’ll see what happens next…

  • Reply Chrissy April 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I love this post so much. I also get annoyed when everyone is checking their phone and hardly present in face to face encounters. I’ve become partial to my friends that apologize or ask to use their phone mid-conversation- at least they recognize that it’s a tiny bit strange/rude!

    I’d love to put together photo albums for my parents- my mom has all these old photos from her childhood in Iran and doesn’t think it’s all that interesting to her kids. But that’s not true at all. And I’d like to have something to show my own children one day. Photos online will never have the same feeling. You need the tactile element and weight of a photo album in your hand.

  • Reply Living Waters April 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    That is great food for thought.
    Inspired by your post I bought a digital album print and finally made my sister and brother-in-law their wedding album. It’s three years after the fact but better late than never.
    Thanks for the encouragement,

  • Reply Josefin April 28, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Its soo true ALL that you are talking about here
    My mum are constantly talking about how I´m in the house, but not with my kids, that I don’t take the time to see a disney movie with them, but are online on the side..
    But I have just finished 2 photo books to my 2 nieces that are turning 3 the 12 of may. I have made one for them as well, because I´m Norwegian, but living in Spain – and when my oldest niece was 2 and a half – and I had not seen here from Christmas to summer – she told me; my mum told me that I love you – but I don’t know you, and even if I can understand here – 6 months for a 2 and a half year old girl its a LOOT, It hurt my hart in a way I cant explain!!! So I diseded that I would make a Photo book with photos from when she was borne – but only photos when me and my family ( that are living in spain) had been with here! I also wanted here to have it to play with – not something to bee afraid for, along with here toys…
    That same year here sisters was borned and ryanair started to fly from spain to norway and we have been more in Norway the last 3 years than I could hope for!!
    The bad thing about digital photos is that we take sooo many photos – its a lot of work just to find THE foto that I want to use – and not everyone – even then I have made 74 pages/ 3 years – and we see eachother 3/4 times a year…
    What I think is THE WORST with thise digital work is all the emails that we dont save….!!!

  • Reply Dora April 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I …forgot how much i love photo books…

  • Reply Kat May 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Oh I totally loved this post and also reading the comments.
    I can see how we are often missing opportunities to create hard copies of things that we will treasure, and pass down.
    Conversely it works the other way and my mam used a scanner to put in all the old photos from her family, and then print them off in little books. That way both her and her sister had the photos and they didn’t get split up.
    It also means they’re online and can’t degenerate in quality any further.
    I love how technology can enhance our memories and help us keep them, but we also need to remember to take time to appreciate our digital photos don’t we, no your post has given me a fresh perspective on that today
    Much love kat x .

  • Reply Nina December 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Holly!
    I just listened to your podcast about building community and while doing so I thought I would thank you for writing this inspirational post. It has helped me to finally finish my wedding photo book which has been a work-in-progress for over two years. After reading your post I finally sat down and finished it. It is a 110 paged book. It was printed beautifully by Blurb. I attach a link to my post about it:
    I received the copy by post on the 24th December just in time to be one of my Christmas gifts!
    Lots of love and a happy Christmas break

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