In our book, Good Riddance: Showing Clutter the Door, we chronicled the myriad ways photography has contributed to the rising tide of household C.R.U.D. Almost everyone can relate to the dread of tackling decades of unsorted photos desperately awaiting either the protection of an album or the ignominy of the trash can. But those of us, who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, may be supplying sanctuary to an even more insidious strain of photographic media; slides.
A mere couple of decades ago, inviting friends over to see slides of your two-week European vacation constituted an evening’s entertainment. You were no longer constrained by the limitations of a 2 by 3 inch photograph. The 35mm slide show offered an experience not previously experienced in the family room. All you needed was a screen or a wall to project your photos where colours actually appeared as they existed in nature. Slides, in their time, represented a major technological advance. The only drawbacks were the incredibly annoying click that accompanied the advance to the next slide and the occasional bulb burnout when you forgot to cool the machine down before turning it off. Slides even contained their own storage system in the carousels that could be organized by subject or trip. How could they possibly be considered C.R.U.D.?
Time marches on. We live in an era where ten year olds send pictures instantaneously to each other through mobile phones. Tablet PC’s are the preferred vehicle for storing and organizing photos. Today, very few people have the time, patience or room to drag out all the equipment necessary to view old slides. It’s simply too much trouble. So, like many other victims of planned obsolescence, these collections of family history and travels wallow in the nether reaches of the abode, forgotten until a cataclysmic event like a move, announces their presence.
Figuring out what to do with your old slides requires significant effort. You will need to set aside both time to review them individually, transfer the ones you want to keep to digital media, and find a way to dispose of the remainder. This is a task well suited to those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere where the winters are characterized by 21 hours of darkness for months on end. Don’t be too quick to trot the projector down to the local thrift establishment. You’ll have to keep it for one last picture show. Or, you could simply skip the formalities and proceed immediately to burning or some other method to eradicate images of you or your family, if paranoia is a major motivator. For the crafty among you, we suggest using slides to create a colourful, personal lampshade or privacy screen. The carousel trays present a different challenge altogether. Best to donate them along with the slide projector.