I got bitten by the shutterbug at an early age. When I turned seven, my parents gave me a Kodak Instamatic camera for my birthday. I did not have the camera long before they took it back from me again. I took pictures of everything, and getting a roll of film developed back then was not cheap, so I was wasting money in their eyes. I never let them forget about this episode and playfully, but strategically, dredged up this memory of parental failure at birthdays and other family gatherings for the rest of their lives.
Even though I no longer had the camera, the bug had bitten, and I have loved taking pictures from that day to this.
One thing about me that can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how, or if, I manage it, is that I am interested in almost everything. I might have gotten some of this from my grandfather, but I think it’s mostly due to the time in which I grew up. The Apollo space missions were going on when I was in grade school, and Jules Bergman was one of my favorite news guys. Not only were we exploring space, but we were also investigating the oceans; Jacques Cousteau and the Calypso were on TV specials regularly, and I loved them. We were also discovering our beginnings as Louis and Mary Leakey were making their discoveries in Africa, and Jane Goodall was doing her work with the Chimpanzees in Tanzania.
Against this backdrop, a year or two after the Instamatic Repossession, my parents one evening offered me a choice as to what I wanted for Christmas, a toy or a subscription to National Geographic. Without hesitation, I chose the latter and every month for years after that reveled in the pictures from around the world that came to me in the mail between those yellow covers.
Then when I was 14, we got a chance to move overseas, to Africa. I was too old to go to school there with my brother and sisters, so the company my dad worked for made it possible for me to go to boarding school in Switzerland. The photography bug had bitten at age seven, everything about my upbringing and environment had created a verdant ground for the infection to mature. Now I found myself in places where you could not look in any direction and not see something “picture worthy.” I do not know how many rolls of film I took back then; it had to be hundreds. I was on the yearbook staff at school and learned to develop my black and white film. For my use, I preferred slides rather than prints because slides took up less space and were more durable than prints with all the traveling I was doing. Even so, when you put in a roll of film, you had 36 exposures to work with, you had to be judicious with your choices.
Scroll forward, US Army, I still took pictures but not to the extent I had before. I met Mireille; we got married, I took pictures a bit more frequently. We had kids, and Mireille and I took lots more pictures. But still, we may have combined for five or ten rolls of film in an average year, so nothing huge.
Then in 2002, I got my first digital camera. That first camera’s memory sticks only held 16 MB, but that was a fantastic leap forward from a 36 exposure roll! I was unbound and went crazy and have become an absolute nuisance to everyone in my family at any gathering we have had ever since. Now my phone can take 36, or more, photos in one press of the shutter!
So, when it came time to think about moving into Charlie, one of the major concerns we had was, “what about our pictures?” We had stacks of albums from when we were first married; then when we started getting behind on that, we had boxes of pictures that we had organized to a degree. Finally, once it became apparent that we did not have the time to keep all the photos organized we just surrendered and had large boxes of prints, still in the envelopes in which they had been when we picked them up from the drug store. We knew we had a lot of photos, but we had no idea how many.
On top of that, we had the thousands and thousands of digital pictures that we had taken in the years since that first digital camera. These were safe (I keep everything backed up online), but they were no more easily “visible” to us than the prints.
About that time I read a blog post on minimalism where the writer talked about his photos and a scanning party. His solution to this problem became my solution to ours.
We had a big three-in-one scanner/printer/copier, but the idea of opening the cover, putting a photo on the glass, closing the cover again, and finally scanning it, and then repeating that process for each picture we had to scan was agonizing. I got us a Doxie scanner which only requires you to insert the photo, and it does the rest, and we went to work. Photo after photo after photo.
Scanning pictures is not hard; it’s just dull. We took to scanning on winter evenings and such. An hour or so a night for quite a while. We had lots of pictures. As I filled up the scanner memory, I would download the files to my computer and then uploaded them to albums in Google Photos for safekeeping. Once the photos were online, I shared these albums with Mireille and the kids so they could all see them.
One crazy thing. All those pictures we had taken way back when, gotten developed, and then put in a box. It was when we were scanning them that we saw many of these photos for the very first time! We had never even taken them out of the envelope to look at when we picked them up.
As we scanned the photos and knew we had a good copy, we threw the print versions away. Like getting rid of the rest of our stuff, this was a very freeing, and liberating experience.
Once we had the pictures scanned, how to display them? I got a Nixplay Seed 10 frame for this. The photo frame connects to the internet, and you can manage the pictures and playlists online or on your phone. I created several playlists in their web app and linked these to the albums in my Google Photos account. This frame is on our internal private network and randomly goes through all these pictures in the playlists I created for it online. That is cool but even cooler is a feature which allows the kids to email any photo they may take to a specific email address, and that photo will automatically appear on our frame.
So now we see more of our pictures more often than we ever did before. It’s fun to be sitting in the living room, and all of a sudden a picture comes on that we have not seen before. The memories come rushing back and make us appreciate the incredible family we have, all the fun times we have shared, and look forward to even more in the future. Even if we decide to move back into a sticks and bricks house sometime in the future, I cannot imagine we will ever be without a frame like this again!
When my parents died, they had lots of photos as well. Many slides but more prints. For the slides, my brother and sisters and I first had a culling party where we went through all the slides our parents had and selected a subset which we wanted to keep. Then we all chipped in and got 1000 of the best slides scanned for us by ScanCafe. They did a great job, and I highly recommend them.
For the prints, we used our Doxie scanner as well so everyone in the family could have a copy. When we finished with my parent’s photos, Mireille and I went back to scanning our own. We were about ten pictures from the end of all our pictures when our Doxie died.
By this time the scanner had proven itself so well that I knew I did not want to be without it for scanning documents and such in the future. I emailed the company and asked if there was a replaceable memory card I could use since the problem I had was a memory failure. Instead, they sent me an entirely new scanner! On top of that, since they no longer made the model I had, they sent me a new model!
Now please understand, our scanner was over two years old when it died, and we had scanned pictures by the thousands. I did not expect them to replace the whole unit and did not ask for them to do it. I merely asked if there was a way to repair the problem. I would have gladly bought another one, but did not have to because they took care of me far beyond any expectations I had. I will NEVER buy any scanning solution from anyone else if Doxie provides an equivalent again. Your mileage may vary, but if you are looking for a portable, easy to use scanning solution, I cannot recommend the Doxie more highly.