I knew at some point that I was going to have to go into the cupboard and face the tower of shoe boxes.
Ticket stubs, memoirs, photos and knick-knacks.
Little time capsules of good feelings.
The nostalgia-fest will take a few hours.
I started with this shoe box as a target size.
What’s in the box?
I ended up with these items:
- A lot of 35mm photography prints and negatives
- An A4 folder containing school reports, certificates and similar things
- Various individual packages of various trip stubs, notes, maps etc
- A collection of tickets from the best gigs I’ve been to
- My Dennis the Menace Fan Club membership wallet – one of the very few connections I have to my pre-emigration 10 year old self
- 3 Cuban pesos
- Did I mention a metric shit-ton of photographs?
These old prints are slices of life so I wanted to hang on to them.
That’s 33 sets of 35mm prints at various sizes.
Each between 24 and 36 exposures.
One thousand photos.
Please try again
I didn’t go through every photograph the first time, I just made them take less space by removing the paper wallets.
We need better constraints, so let’s keep a maximum of five prints per album, and all of the developed negatives.
This leave us with around 50-100 prints.
And while we’re here, let’s be more brutal and digitize the low-quality things like holiday ticket stubs.
It was easy, bar a few high quality items that I couldn’t bear to discard yet, such as the last birthday card my grandfather wrote to me before his sudden and unexpected death,
Somehow, I couldn’t just throw away his last written message to me.
But one day, I will.
The Second Pruning
- Fifty prints
- Over a thousand negatives
- Two certificates
- The birthday card from my Grandfather
- The Order of Service from the Nan’s funeral
- Four gig tickets
- 3 Cuban pesos
It’s comforting to just know that I can connect with my more distant past through a small pile of photographs.
And, suddenly we don’t need that shoebox anymore.
What didn’t make the cut
- 950-ish prints
- 100 negatives
- 6 holidays of trinkets, stubs, maps and keepsakes (photographed, instead)
- A wallet of workplace-related mementos (photographed, instead)
- School reports (photographed, instead)
- Old letters (photographed, instead)
- … the list goes on
This all depends on the person and collection of stuff, but my thoughts are as follows:
- Pruning sentimental things will require at least two passes
- Only high quality attachments deserve originals – digitize the rest
- Most things probably aren’t high quality
It also helped me to imagine myself in the future carrying a very large backpack full of things, and to then ask myself if I’d bring it with me.
Imagining myself carrying that first shoebox with one thousand photos and knick-knacks – that image made me try again.
The final result offered a much higher value-to-weight ratio.
This could easily be reduced further.
I have already been painfully aggregating and organising my digital library into a small 5TB USB hard drive, so why not just scan the rest of the photos?
I might still do that.
But not now.