My personal photo collection can be compared to Mary Poppins’ bag. Impressive. Bottomless. A great abyss. But also, filled with exactly what you need when you need it.
Like most of us, I have a lot of photos. In my struggle to tame the unending mounds of megapixels, I created a folder system: Year, Month, Event. The featured photo can be found under the year and month it was taken, and the folder: “Around the House.”
Wait. Is “Around the House” an event? I’ll get to that.
My daughter was two. And learning for the first time how to make mini-bagel pizzas. They were a hit. And though not as standalone important as the first day of school—I thought to grab my camera for this everyday moment.
I have lots of folders in each month, through all the years. Some are labeled “Christmas” or “5th Birthday Party.” Big life moments.
But there’s one folder that appears in every single month. “Around the House.” And it’s my favorite.
It’s for the everyday moments. Such as the time my son, at that same kitchen table, filled his new pencil case with new crayons as a new notepad waited on the side.
A big life moment? I would argue yes. Because I’m sentimental.
But in sorting that pencil-case photo, where should it go? To the “First Day of School” folder? Perhaps. What about the “Gifts From Family and Friends” folder? I never made a folder like that, but sure. Or what about the most important folder: “Around the House?”
“Around the House” sits on high. Upon a pedestal. For it holds the true treasures of parenthood. The moments in between.
The moments I catch the perfect amused look on my son’s face as he watches his toddler sister try out a rake. How a photo of that reminds me of when my daughter called all raking and sweeping, “brooming.” She’d call out, “I’m brooming the leaves, Mommy!”
Some would argue a better photo would be when our leaf pile was finished. The moment they jumped in. The moment all the Pinterest sites say matters the most.
I disagree. The raking photo was a moment in between. A moment shared among just the three of us. While we spent our day around the house. Going about our normal business, day after day, in folder after folder, year after year.
Jumping ahead a few years, the kids grew bigger, we moved to a different city, and fall came around once again.
Every chance they got, they played in the yard, enjoying the season. I can still hear the crunch of leaves when I see a photo of them in their playhouse. The scratch of sneakers and branches heading down the slide. Half the time, in my “Around the House” photos, I don’t know if the kids even knew I was taking their picture.
But I love those moments. Those in-between moments, just us, around our house. Whenever I want to enjoy the day with the rake, or the mini pizzas or the new pencil case again, I open up my favorite folder, and there those moments wait. There are all sorts of ways to organize your photos. Plenty of apps will sort them for you, by date. You could make a photo book (Yes! I always recommend this!). Or you could just leave them.
But someday, if you do want to group even a few of them, from even one year, go ahead and make an “Around the House” folder for yourself. Fill it with the tiny things. The in-between things. The things you were doing when you were just hanging out together, spending a blessed day among those you love.
Sometimes you don’t know or remember exactly what’s in the photo. More than one photo I’ve saved shows dozens of plastic creatures perched around our bathroom sink.
I don’t know what that means. You tell me!
But whatever it means, into the “Around the House” folder it goes. And whenever I want to, I can hop back in time to those precious moments that really speak to me. I’m a family portrait photographer. I want pictures that are beautiful, focused, well lit and act as shining examples of love.
But also, I want these.
My blurry, crazy, colorful around-the-house images that mark a moment only I truly remember. This folder acts as a diary for me. A way to break through the Mary Poppins’ abyss to just what I need when I need it. A way to look back on all the playtime and discovery and joy that came from something as simple as a mini-bagel pizza.
When we are just us, being a family around the house.