The Value of Photographs

Friday, June 29, 2012

Waldo Canyon fire blows up…the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history…346 homes lost, one fatality…another fire burning near Boulder and Grand Junction and Eagle…

I was about to write another blog post about Costa Rica this week, but something more pressing is on my mind.  My mom got the call for mandatory evacuation from her town on Saturday due to a fire in Waldo Canyon, a few miles away.  She packed up what she could and drove up to stay with us.  Almost a week later, she’s still staying with us, waiting for word of the fires, watching the news in horror at the destruction of so many homes in Colorado Springs, worried not only about her own house, but those of friends and family members.

In the meantime, I started gathering our own family’s valuables this week.  Although we do not currently have any fires close to us, we had to evacuate ten years ago, experienced the nearby North Fork fire back in March, and think about the chance of evacuation every fire season.  What do you take?  What is most important to bring with you if you have to leave your home?  Personally, it’s not a lot in terms of things.  Most things can be replaced.  My most important “things” have to do with memories:  photographs, videos, journals of trips.  Irreplaceable moments and experiences.  I prioritized what could potentially fit in the car.  Not an easy task, but worthwhile.

You start thinking about what you could live without.  I feel I could live without a lot of “stuff.”  I always joke that I could be pretty happy as a nomad with a backpack and a camera.  But as I started sorting through the memories of my life and my family, I know it would be pretty devastating if I no longer had access to these images:  photos of my grandmother, our wedding pictures, the joyful look on my baby’s face at the beach for the first time.  Photography has been around for less than two centuries, but how could we live without it now?  Do we take it for granted?  We look at photos and video of the fire to see what’s happening in the news.  Homeowners identify their homes in the fires from photographs.  The first things we grab if evacuated are usually family photos.  So much of our lives are interwoven with images, it’s hard to imagine life without these recorded moments.

What value do you place on your photographs?

If you live in Colorado or think you’ll need to evacuate for some other reason, gather your photos together.  Don’t forget the ones you have on the walls and shelves.  I like to put mine in plastic containers that are easy to grab.  Back up all digital files onto a hard drive and have it ready to go.  Consider storing a backup of important images and documents at a separate location from your home.

I intentionally did not include an image in this blog post.  Can you imagine a life without photographs?

For more information about how to help victims of Colorado wildfires and how to prepare for wildfire evacuation, please go to the 9News Wildfire Resource.

If you normally spend money on fireworks for July 4th, instead please consider donating that money to one of the many organizations set up for victims of the Colorado wildfires or firefighters:

American Red Cross

Help Colorado Now

Colorado Relief Fund 2012

Thank you!


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One response to "The Value of Photographs"

  • Simonne Gallaty says:

    Photographs ARE invaluable. For me, they bring unforgettable moments of time to life again. Smiles–tears–colors–shapes–images of our lives to relive and share. Even in your message, I kept looking for the photo–waiting for the photo to appear. Thanks for the reminder to get organized! So glad your Mom and memories are safe and sound.

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