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 decision to organize our photos often has to do with printing. We want it to be easier to find and print our favorite photographs so that we can bring our experiences and stories to life. We want something physical that we can hold in our hands and enjoy. However, two very big hurdles for storytellers are our digital reality and buzz. Both of which get in the way of organization activities, and make us forget our goal (the reason we went about organizing or wanted to to organize in the first place).
Though our smartphones make 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 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 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.
There's something about this that feels deeply tragic to me.
Luckily, there are a few things we storytellers can do to help us over the hurdles. We can:
- Be aware of the buzz, taking note of our most important stories
- Decide (or remember) why we want to organize our photos
- Get organized so that we can achieve that goal
- Stay organized so that we can find things
- Print important stories early—shortly after our experiences—even if it's just a 4x6 print reminder
Revisiting these ideas often is a great way to overcome those challenges that our digital reality and the buzz throw our way.