Photobooks work for mementos!

Well, the photobook arrived earlier this week, all pristine, clean cut, glossy and smelling like a new book should. Inside, the images and text are bright and clear. Overall, it’s everything I hoped for, and certainly looks great on my bookshelf. I’m convinced that this is a viable media for making mementos more accessible and enjoyable.

Having said that, a detailed look at the book highlighted a few points to remember for the future:

  • Snapfish doesn’t provide an automatic page numbering facility so I inserted my own in a small text box at the bottom of each page. However, some were too low and only half of some page numbers got printed. Of course, this and other typos should be picked up by printing out a draft and doing a detailed check before finally submitting for printing.
  • Some of the small headshot photos I included next to signatures on the retirement/leaving cards were too dark to be clear. Small headshots need to be relatively light.
  • Almost all the text in the jpg page images provided for the book, appears within a very faint greyish background. It’s not particularly noticeable until you focus on it, and it doesn’t detract from the look of the book – but it’s definitely there and I don’t yet understand why.

Regarding the second of my objectives – to try and understand what to do with the physical objects that are represented in the photobook – I have gained some clear insights. The answer in brief is one of the following: destroy, re-use, display, store, or make no change. The display option emerged, at least in part, from a TV interview with Aggie MacKenzie in connection with her series on storage hoarders. One of the things she said is that you should pick out a few photos that you like and put them on the wall and enjoy them; and throw the rest away. I think the concept is ideally suited to mementos in general, though slightly modified: pick out the things that are especially valuable to you and find a way to make those physical things accessible so you can enjoy them; digitise the other material that you value and find a way to make them accessible (for example, in a photobook); then throw away all the rest. Below is a list of the items I used in my photobook and what I ended up doing with them.

Item Digitisation method What I did with it afterwards
Leaving and retirement cards Scanned Destroyed and recycled
Retirement email messages None required Put in zip file and filed on PC
Leaving texts, poems and annotated gift wrap Scanned No change – retained inside the Atlas that was given to me
Job offer letters Scanned Destroyed and recycled
Paypacket envelopes Scanned Destroyed and recycled
Payslips Scanned Stored the first and last two from each job. Destroyed the rest.
Certificates (University Degree, Ergonomics Society award) Scanned No change (one in certificate file and one on the wall)
Special company brochures/newsletters Scanned Retained in display folder
Cosmos project brochure Scanned Retained in display folder
Reject drills and cutting bits (souvenirs from lathe job) Photographed Put three examples into my display cabinet and threw away the rest
Crystal paperweight from bid win Photographed Put into the crystal cabinet in the dining room
CSC Management principles in desk stand Photographed  and scanned Put into loft box of old folders and desk equipment, awaiting re-use
CSC marketing folding block Photographed Put into the toybox
CSC logo lapel pin Photographed Put into my jewellery box
CSC Vision Card Scanned Destroyed and recycled
CSC key ring Photographed Put into hall drawer in case we need a keyring
CSC marketing peppermint dispenser Photographed Threw it away for recycling
Plastic block certificate for contributing to CSC papers Photographed Threw it away

It was hard throwing away some of the things, particularly the retirement and leaving cards (some of which were over thirty years old), even though I know I’ll look at their contents in the photobook much more now than I would have before.  Somehow there’s something about throwing away an original thing (I can imagine having the same pangs about deleting a special set of electronic files). I guess different people have different thresholds – but whatever your threshold is, based on my experience, there’s a little pang of regret when they go.

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