Do You Have A Favorite Picture

My six-year-old lunch companion’s kids-meal toy wound up being not a molded-plastic plaything but a meaningful “prize inside.” She opened her fast-food bag to find  …. a deck of cards called “Let’s Remember” — table topics or conversational prompts, as we’d call them today. 

My lunch date wasn’t thrilled with the prize, but we looked at the cards and chose the question,  “Do you have a favorite picture, and if so, who or what is in it?” For me, it was the prompt of a lifetime.

Once you’ve gotten to know me, it’s likely you’ll hear me wax poetic about the tens of thousands of photos, slides and negatives I’ve digitized for image- and story-keepers across the country. I’ve saved family photo collections from ruination and loss in disasters like wildfires, smoke damage, tornadoes, landslides, flooding, and family breakups.  

I often poke folks beginning their own projects with the question, “Do you have a favorite picture, and if so, who or what is in it?” 

Being a memory-keeper myself, a few photo memories sing out from the batches I have digitally archived. 

Decked in Halloween regalia, playful, feathered and fancied, four-, five- and six-year-olds gather for a schoolyard photo around 1926. 

Three swim-trunked brothers, ages five, four and three, digging buckets of sand as their dad commands their dune in full button-down suit, wingtips, hat and windblown tie. Seaside, Oregon, c. 1936. 

Bespeckled dad and daughter share a hobby grin at a film counter. 

A recent candid snap of an adoptee peering through a loupe at 16mm film, reminiscing as she chooses clips from her adopted family videos to gift her birth-mom. 

Theatre photos from 1910 as a group of young doctors performed an autopsy. 

A surly knot of young whippersnappers squinting from the family porch in the late 1930s. 

A serpentarium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, taken shortly after Teddy Roosevelt visited. 

A nude beach romp in the 1970s. 

My own daughters as they slept, cavorted, grew and flew. 

These and other photo memories sing out to be remembered.  But one stands out, telling a tale from a distance. 

A Drugstore Photo of My Dad 

I had never seen this photo until a couple of years ago. It looks to have been taken in the early 1940s. It is a wallet-sized photo of my dad that could have been carried in someone’s wallet. It is creased and well worn. I immediately put it on my scanner and saved it to the cloud. It was a treasure I did not want to lose. 

My Favorite Photo: my dad, a portrait taken when he was about 12 or 13 years old. He has a baseball cap balanced on his mop of “Durfee hair.” He looks straight into the camera, and these are the eyes I am familiar with. He has a gaze that is ancient, and he doesn’t smile (Stoic is a notable feature of most pictures of my family members.) 

Behind him is a painted backdrop of mountains you might choose when you are having your photo taken at a drugstore, if you were a young boy, dreaming of travelling to the mountains. You would save your money for the day when you could dress in your bomber jacket and baseball cap and have your picture taken in town. This is one of the few pictures I own that truly makes me  sentimental.

How had I never seen the photo of this shy, gentle-faced boy who dreamt of mountains? 

The person who had been keeping the picture gave it to me many years after my dad had passed away — years after I could have asked about it. When was it taken? Why the mountains? Where was it taken? Who carried this photo in their wallet? 

Dad rarely talked about himself and the dreams he hadn’t accomplished. He was a man of few words. I knew he loved the mountains, but not until much later. 

A Birthday Wish Interview 

In 2001, I’d invited him over for coffee and to videotape a birthday greeting for my daughter, who was moving to Washington state to fulfill her own dreams. He was shy and uncomfortable in front of the camera.  I managed to capture a recording of his wish for her birthday: That she would enjoy Washington, and that she would catch a salmon, as he had always wanted to. The message was straight and to the point, in his down-to-earth way. 

 Tonight, I watched that 20-year-old video and remembered that day vividly: the coffee, the way the sun came in the window. I grew nostalgic and missed my dad more than I have in several years. I went outside and gazed up at the stars, and a lone bird whooped in the distance, low and lonely. 

I’m remembering. 

Here is one of my favorite photos, along with the birthday wish interview

So now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite photo. 

I’ll Coax The Story Out Of You. 

Aging in the Willamette Valley Interview

Aging in the Willamette Valley host John Hughes interviewed me for My Beautiful Life Story: “Life is busy. If arranging your photos & preserving your stories has been on your to-do list, there is no time like the present to make it happen. Memories, like photos, fade away, and time is fleeting. Photo albums that weren’t archived can damage images, and memorabilia, slides, and images stored incorrectly can become a real mess to salvage.”

During the interview, I talk about how my  services preserve photos, memories, and stories for children and grandchildren who may not know the stories behind the pictures.

This podcast originally aired on January 1, 2019 on KMUZ 100.7 at noon.

Retirement Connection Creating a Lasting Legacy

Organizing Your Photos

October 25, 2018~ Senior service profiles in Portland are gathered inside  Retirement Connection  ,THE gold standard resource guide in Portland, Oregon.

If you are like most of us there is a box of photos, slides and memorabilia under the bed or in a closet corner fading away. The memories inside are pure gold!

Take care. This is your legacy! A professional photo organizer asks you to inhale and remember, “A box of photos tells no tales.” It is probably (past) time to think about organizing and saving those photos, slides & stories.

Your organizer is a helper who has systems and ideas about organizing & storing irreplaceable photos so they are easy to find & don’t become damaged or lost. Instead of using them as bookends, a professional photo organizer can curate your collection of slides making it easy to view the memories they hold.

Who can forget photos from the mid 60s? Remember how they turned pink after they had been around for 30 years? A professional photo organizer can make minor adjustments to photos to get rid of the pink. They’ll look like they did originally.

There are lots of reasons to stop dragging your feet to get those photos out of the box.

Maybe you are thinking of downsizing? If so you might not have room for photos, memorabilia and sentimental objects.

Preserving your collection is a project you will want to prioritize ahead of time. Once you and/or your move manager give the go ahead, a photo organizer will scan memorabilia & trinkets to load onto a smart TV or digital photo frame for easy transport and viewing anytime. Images can also be shared with others in the cloud or on a disk.

A digital photo frame is a great “memory box” used to recall fond memories, sentimental objects, art, music, family stories or personal history.

Professional photo organizers wear several hats. Aside from scanning photos & slides to digitize and organize, they offer archive advice about fragile photos, documents & objects.

Maybe you’ve found yourself procrastinating once a family member asked you to write about your personal history or your stories? Many in this profession create montage or video documentaries told with interviews, your photos & personal history.

Do you want to delve deeper into your story? Bond with family members to include their stores & images? Commemorate a special occasion?

Your professional might offer printed photo memoirs: bound books or magazines to illustrate your rich legacy.

Through books or magazines a photo organizer creates a portable visual treasure for you and your family to hold, browse and cherish. This makes your personal history a gift that is priceless.

Isn’t it past time to schedule a consultation with one of these professionals? A photo organizer assures your photos, history and memories can be enjoyed time and again for generations to come.

No gift or souvenir will mean more to future generations than the time you took to create a lasting legacy.

NixPlay Recounting One Family’s Past Through Pictures


September 25, 2018~ Nixplay blogger Marianne Salazar wrote an article about my work: ” Recounting One Family’s Past Through Pictures”. Nixplay  learned about the adventurous journey I traveled alongside  Dr. Homer Speer, Sr as I worked digitizing the Speer family photo collection. This family’s photo collection is held by Homer Speer, Jr  ““I’ve scanned hundreds of Homer’s collection of vintage photos and postcards, learning the stories behind most of the family treasures he had collected. I’ve learned a lot of local history along the way while preserving important mementos and photos.” NIXPLAY’s WiFi digital frames ARE the next big thing for displaying pictures and sharing them with your family and friends. Read the NIXPLAY Blog here.