Reader Mary submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
My parents divorced when I was quite young, and little evidence of their past relationship remains in our lives. Being the most sentimental of the three kids, I am in possession what is, to my knowledge, the only remaining wedding photograph, a framed 8×10 that has been sitting at the back of my closet for years.
I am now in the process of permanently cleaning my possessions out of my childhood home, and I feel like it would be weird to display this framed photograph in my new home, since I am basically the only person left on the planet who feels sentimental about this long-since-ended marriage.
In addition, I live with a partner who does not have the same sense of sentimentality as I do, who does not tend to favor displaying family photographs in the home (an uncluttered philosophy I generally support), and who in fact has never met one of the parents in the picture.
Do you have any suggestions for what to do with this framed photograph that nobody but me wants to look at, but I could definitely not get rid of? I suppose I could digitize it, but then what? I don’t know if I could bring myself to throw out the original. One more consideration is that it’s not a very high-quality photograph, so it wouldn’t even really be that attractive to display–its value is purely (but extremely) sentimental.
I’d start by removing the image from the frame and having it digitally scanned. I wouldn’t have it scanned for the purpose of getting rid of the original, but rather so you have a copy of it in case your home is ever destroyed in a disaster (fire, flood, tornado, etc.). Upload the file to a secure and private online account (like you can do with Flickr), so if you ever need to make a copy you can easily do it.
As far as the original is concerned, I’m greatly in favor of keeping it. Being an unclutterer doesn’t mean your home has to be void of any personal or sentimental objects, it just means you’ve chosen not to let these items overwhelm your space and distract you from pursuing the life of your dreams. One photograph of your parents’ wedding day is unlikely a distraction.
The frame seems to be a little bulky, though, and unnecessary if you don’t want to hang the image on your wall. (Heck, even if your parents were still together, I doubt you’d be hanging up their wedding portrait.) I recommend heading to your local camera store and talking with an employee about all of your image preservation options.
For the print photographs I have decided to keep (in addition to their digital backups), I have them stored in an archival quality, acid-free, photo storage box. Also, because I’m a believer that if I’m going to keep something I’m going to care for it as best as I possibly can, I got a pair of darkroom photography gloves to handle the images. The employee at your local camera store might have more options, so definitely find out what she suggests, too.
Thank you, Mary, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Be sure to check the comments for even more suggestions from our readers.
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