The Waterloo Courier in Eastern Iowa sponsored an event today called "Prime Time Live". While it was geared towards adults 50 years and older, it provided an arsenal of seminars and resources people of any age might find helpful.
I had the honor of presenting a seminar titled "Leave the Baggage Behind." Downsizing and letting go were the main topics. Ironically after the presentation, there were two different individuals who wanted some additional advice on what to do with old photographs.
As a general rule, the purpose of photographs is to preserve memories. If you have inherited photographs from someone else, many of the photos are meaningless to you, particularly photographs of vacations or people you do not know. If this is the case, it is okay to simply purge the photos. Unfortunately because of the chemicals used in photographs it is unlikely they can be recycled.
If you have older photos with some memories that might be of meaning to other family members, offer to share them. The holidays or a family reunion is the perfect time to pull out the photos, reminisce, and let others choose any photos they might want.
If you need to downsize the sheer volume of your collection, choose one or two photos from the various events and let the others go.
While photos are a great way to preserve a memory, if no one revisits them or it's someone else's memory, it might make sense to let them go.
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