Organize Those Photos (Or Don’t)

The Problem: You feel way too disorganized to tell your story.

Real Obstacles

Thanks to our overcrowded smartphones and a phenomenon I like to call connection-buzz, it's not just difficult to find that photo we want (you know that special one from when we toured the Southwest ten years ago?). We might not even remember that we have it.

Our Digital Reality

Though our smartphones make it easy to photograph our world, it's a bit too easy to keep those images in the camera roll. Likewise, it's a bit too easy to share copies of those images online. Plus, if we use more than one camera or more than one family member contributes to our photo collection, we may find our images aren't confined to one phone's camera roll, but scattered across multiple phones, camera cards, computers, and social media hubs, as well. Our images can be in lots of places, making organization a demanding job.

And here's the real rub: Even if things are well organized, we might not print things anyway because of connection-buzz.

Connection-Buzz

Connection-buzz is a term I use to describe that buzz we get from immediate sharing online. Our friends and family show appreciation for our shared photos (which are really our moments, experiences, and stories). There is a real connection between us—our stories are connecting—and this gives us a feel-good-buzz. But, the buzz tricks us into believing we're done. There's no urgency to print what's been shared and no real need to organize it. Worse yet, since we've already told our story we have more of an incentive to let it go than remember it. As for the photo: Out of sight, out of mind. We're likely to forget it exists.

Added Together, It's Tragic

Taken together, buzz and our digital reality can make us forget our goal of bringing our experiences and stories to life. Our digital reality can overwhelm us while putting too much emphasis on the goal to organize. Suddenly, it seems like organizing is most important and storytelling—memory keeping—is secondary. Worse still, buzz can make us think we've already safeguarded important memories. In the end, these two obstacles can keep us from doing anything at all to keep our memories from slipping into oblivion.

There's something about this that feels deeply tragic to me.

A Solution: Take notes and tell our stories—even if our photos are a mess.

Here's the deal: It's not necessary to organize our photos before telling our stories (or ever, for that matter). In truth, all we really have to do is work around our digital mayhem and buzz. In other words, we only need to:

  1. Be aware of the buzz, taking note of our most important stories
  2. Print and jot down some notes about important stories early—shortly after our experiences—even if it's just a 4x6 print reminder
  3. Tell our stories (I fully believe that we don't need to be organized to do this)

Remember, our lack of organization isn't the adversary here. Oblivion is the enemy.

What Say You?

So what about you? What get's in the way of your storytelling efforts? If it's an urge to organize, do you ever find it pushing your goal to tell your stories into the background? What do you do to help yourself get back to storytelling?