Losing all your photos, how bad is it?

Journalist Jocelyn de Kwant had planned on sorting her photographs into albums for years. But when her husband’s hard drive was stolen, all the photographs of her children’s baby years were suddenly gone. It was rough, but it also resulted in some powerful insights. You can read more in Issue 14 and here is a preview of her story. 

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At first, I consoled myself by thinking the pictures couldn’t actually be gone. I hoped my husband would suddenly remember he’d just left his bag at work. Or I told myself that someone would bring the bag back, hopefully soon. I plastered the neighborhood with flyers hoping anyone with information about it would contact me. But no. I told everyone about it, and always got the same incredulous and sympathetic response: “Oh no! All of your kids’ baby pictures?!” Everyone shared my pain. Except for one friend, who shrugged her shoulders and just said, “Ah well.” She told me she doesn’t care much about photographs anyway. I would get really worked up about that comment, lying in my bed at night; Who on earth doesn’t care about photographs? Easy to say if you still have yours.

I also felt like a dunce. Why hadn’t I slapped those thousands of pictures into albums yet? I had two half-finished baby albums, and some loose photographs in a box, but that was it. It had been on my to-do list for years: Make family photo albums. Or at least get one of those store-printed albums made. I really didn’t take care of them at all, come to think of it. Sometimes I didn’t even look at the photographs I had taken. Well, that quickly changed. After the loss, I treasured each and every picture I found tucked away in old diaries or in a pile of cards. I was ecstatic with every photo I could get my hands on.

And there were actually quite a lot. For example, there were many in my e-mails. Some of which I had never even downloaded. I worked my way through my inbox like Sherlock Holmes, tracking down hidden treasures. And it gave me an idea: other people are constantly snapping pictures of everything around them, so that includes us. I sent all my friends and family an e-mail asking if they had any pics of us to share. In the following days, my inbox filled up with pictures, some of which I had never seen before. And it turned out, my father had kept a very orderly archive of all the photos I had sent him —what a hero.

You can read the article ‘Losing all your photos, how bad is it?’ in Issue 14 with tips for Organizing and Storing your Photos and more on Why do we take so many photographs?

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Text Jocelyn de Kwant Photo’s ©Maja Topcagic, Gillian van Niekerk, Mosuno/Stocky United