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Thursday, March 23, 2017

“Where are my pictures?” my daughter asked me one day. “What pictures?” I asked. “Well, I can see pictures of me until I’m about 10, then everything stops.” Yep, that’s about the time we went digital, and we stopped printing out all of our pictures.

With film, you had to print your pictures to see them. I have boxes and photo albums full of pictures. They are taking up space in my closet now, but boy am I glad I have them. They document my family’s history. Occasionally I will open up a photo album and be transported back in time. It is fun to sit with my 20-something-year-old kids and laugh about their baby pictures. Hopefully I’ll be sharing these same pictures with my grandkids someday. But the timeline on these pictures stops about 12 years ago. That’s when I bought my first digital camera. I didn’t stop taking pictures, in fact I took more pictures, I just didn’t print many of them out. The pictures did get downloaded to the computer and even backed up on a disc, but now those computers are long gone, and the discs are somewhere around the house. My daughter is right, the pictorial history of our family has disappeared. This really saddens me.

When my parents passed away and I was cleaning out their house, I came across pictures of myself that I didn’t even know existed. What a thrill that was! Then there was the old small suitcase I found that contained pictures of my grandmother, my kid’s great-grandmother, with her family when she was in her 20s. Those pictures are almost 100 years old, and they are priceless to me now.

I got to wondering if the millennial generation will have the same pictures to pass down, or will they find some old silver disc with “Pictures from Disney Trip” written on it. Hopefully they will be able to find a computer that still reads discs because we all know how fast technology changes. My kids have stated, “Mom, just use the cloud!” and to that I say, “I hope you have all of your passwords written down.” My friend had a pretty major stroke and can’t remember a single password. His family couldn’t get into his phone, his computer or anything else. If he had a cloud account, everything on it will forever be in cyber space, lost to his family.

Don’t let your history disappear. Print your pictures! Of course, not all of your pictures, no one needs 50 selfies, but the important events in life should be printed—births, graduations, family trips, all the milestones in our lives. There are companies online such as Shutterfly.com or Mixbook.com that make it easy to take your pictures and turn them into a hard- or soft-covered book. And for those of you who primarily use your phone or iPad to document your life, there is now an app called Chatbooks that makes it easy to print from your phone, Instagram or Facebook. It won’t make a fancy book, but it will create a physical document of your history. Something for your kids to run across when you’re gone and exclaim, “Wow, look at these…I remember when we did that.” There is no better gift for you to leave behind.

By Janet Joyner

 Janet Joyner grew up in Teaneck, and after leaving for a short time to live in the Midwest, she returned to her hometown to raise her children. She was a teacher in the Teaneck public schools until about six years ago when she then decided to switch careers to become a portrait photographer. She and her husband opened up their studio, Janet Joyner Photography, on Cedar Lane about three years ago. She invites you to check out her work on her website at janetjoyner.com, and you can contact her at [email protected]