DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. CHRISTEL)

Before meeting Ms. Christel I was told that she was quite proud of her apartment, which was easy to understand, given the tastefully decorated interior. Her introduction was warm and as fast as I could admire her beautiful furniture and fresh flowers, she was making me feel right at home, chatting about her day, what was to come, and how much she loved where she lived.

Her sweet and cozy space held a lot of natural light, was incredibly tidy, and seemed to house exactly what she would need on a day-to-day basis. Surrounded by many gorgeous framed photographs, I commented on how I appreciated that she chose to surround herself with her memories.

Her eyes brightened. ‘Oh! Would you like to see my albums?’

We walked to the living room to the very narrow closet door. I don’t know how many albums I was expecting to find – I can assure you it was much less than what I found.

“I’m telling you – I sit in that chair almost every night and look at my photo albums for hours. We [my family] have so many fun memories. I try to watch TV but there’s never anything important on.”

Ms. Christel proudly displaying her album collection. 

Ms. Christel proudly displaying her album collection. 

I couldn’t believe how many there were. Looking back, I should have possibly asked to count her dinnerware set, just to see which there were more of. Cruises, celebrations, weddings, family, and custom made photo books to commemorate anniversaries and birthdays. It was impressive and joyful.

If there were photos that didn’t somehow include her husband, I don’t remember. We talked of how fond they were of one another, the adventures they had. I asked her how it all began.

“One afternoon at a café in Germany, a friend said to me, ‘Look at that nice looking gentleman at the bar.’ I didn’t pay much mind and went about my visit with her.

When it was time to leave I began walking down the street to my transportation stop and I could tell I was being followed. Once I reached my destination, I turned to find it was the gentleman from the café bar.

I said (confidently), ‘Why are you following me?’  

He replied, ‘Because I liked what I saw.’ “

She makes a swooning gesture.

While I am certainly an advocate for printing images, it’s witnessing others making the choice to spend time reliving happy memories over a game show or rerun, that give me the gentle reminder to revisit my images (cell phone, professional, or anything in between) and make sure I am up to date on preserving them in some tangible form. I like to think one of the reasons Ms. Christel still holds her smile sweet and has a warm twinkle in her eye is because of the constant love she is shown through reminders of her family and loved ones; and that’s a pretty wonderful way to stay happy.

Ms. Christel still swoons over her husband to this day. 

Ms. Christel still swoons over her husband to this day.