Time to dig­i­tize those old pho­tos

‘Very few peo­ple look at ac­tual pho­to­graphs these days. Ev­ery­thing’s dig­i­tal.’ – Toni Greetis, Pho­totron­ics

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By LISA A. FLAM

Take a sur­vey of your home, and con­sider all the spots where you have old pho­tos. Per­haps you’ll find baby pic­tures in al­bums in the liv­ing room, va­ca­tion snaps in tat­tered en­velopes tucked into a book­shelf, mile­stone mo­ments in old frames, and older rel­a­tives’ fad­ing pho­tos in dusty boxes in the base­ment or at­tic.

“They’re mem­o­ries and trea­sures for us, but they take up a lot of space, and over the years they keep grow­ing,” said Stephanie Sisco, home ed­i­tor for Real Sim­ple mag­a­zine. “When you de­cide you want to or­ga­nize these pho­tos, you’re do­ing your­self a favour, as well as the peo­ple who will in­herit those from you.”

You can or­ga­nize your pho­tos and pre­serve your per­sonal his­tory either dig­i­tally, in photo-safe boxes or both ways.

And if you dis­card the orig­i­nals af­ter go­ing dig­i­tal, you’ll free up stor­age space around the house, which is al­ways a good thing.

Get­ting or­ga­nized can feel over­whelm­ing, es­pe­cially if you're star­ing down hun­dreds or thou­sands of loose, un­or­ga­nized pho­tos.

And re­liv­ing mem­o­ries through pho­tos can take a heavy toll, es­pe­cially if you’re work­ing on the project dur­ing an al­ready emo­tional time like mov­ing, help­ing a par­ent down­size or deal­ing with an es­tate.

“It’s one of the most chal­leng­ing projects that peo­ple un­der­take in their or­ga­ni­za­tional lives be­cause, un­less you’re start­ing from a re­ally or­ga­nized place, it’s dif­fi­cult to even know where to be­gin,” Sisco said.

Prints are the most com­mon pho­to­graphic item that peo­ple have — and have many of — in their homes.

Sisco rec­om­mends spend­ing an hour a day go­ing through them.

Or­ga­nize the prints by decade, and then nar­row them fur­ther by year, or by per­son or spe­cial event like a wed­ding.

One of the hard­est parts is throw­ing pho­tos away. Sisco ad­vises toss­ing pho­tos that are blurry, un­flat­ter­ing or du­pli­cates.

“You don’t have to feel this obli­ga­tion to keep them just be­cause they were printed,” she said.

Over time, re­mem­ber that sun­light and hu­mid­ity can cause pho­tos to de­te­ri­o­rate.

“If they're ex­posed to sun­light, each layer of colour even­tu­ally fades off,” said Toni Greetis, lab man­ager at Pho­totron­ics, an in­de­pen­dent cam­era shop in Win­netka, Illi­nois.

In base­ments, pho­tos can be dam­aged by flood­ing, hu­mid­ity, mould and mildew. In at­tics, heat and hu­mid­ity can cause prob­lems. For these rea­sons, a dig­i­tal archive is the best way to safely store pho­tos and slides, Greetis said. Hav­ing all im­ages on a disk or thumb drive also makes it con­ve­nient to find and share im­ages in per­son and on­line.

“You can take it with you to Grandma’s house rather than car­ry­ing eight boxes filled with photo al­bums,” Greetis said.

“And there's less risk of dam­age to a small thumb drive than there is to photo al­bums or boxes of pho­tos in your base­ment or at­tic.”

She rec­om­mends get­ting a du­pli­cate of the drive or disk and keep­ing it some­where se­cure, like in a safety de­posit box or fire­proof safe.

If you dig­i­tize pho­tos, you can scan them into the com­puter your­self, pay for the ser­vice at a cam­era shop or go through an on­line com­pany like the one Sisco rec­om­mends, ScanMyPho­tos.com .

At Pho­totron­ics, which dig­i­tizes pho­tos, slides, VCR tapes and movies recorded in ear­lier for­mats, the ques­tion of whether to keep the orig­i­nals af­ter dig­i­tiz­ing is a com­mon one. Greetis says it’s a per­sonal choice.

“If you keep them, you ac­tu­ally have the tac­tile ob­ject that you can look at, which has its own nos­tal­gia,” she said.

“You can pass those to other fam­ily mem­bers or just sim­ply to have as the backup if some­thing hap­pens to the dig­i­tal copies. The down­side is it takes up space.”

If you keep the orig­i­nal photo prints, Sisco rec­om­mends stor­ing them in clearly marked, archival stor­age boxes. Greetis rec­om­mends plac­ing those acid-free boxes in­side a Rub­ber­maid con­tainer to keep out mois­ture. Store them some­where dry, dark and cool, like a closet.

De­spite the hun­dreds of pho­tos in base­ments and at­tics, al­bums and boxes, Greetis knows one thing for cer­tain.

“Very few peo­ple look at ac­tual pho­to­graphs these days,” she said. “Ev­ery­thing’s dig­i­tal.”

The As­so­ci­ated Press

Imag­in­ing spe­cial­ist Erin McClin­tic works in the lab at Pho­totron­ics in Win­netka, Ill., dig­i­tiz­ing and ar­chiv­ing a shoe­box of cus­tomer pho­to­graphs.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

Old pho­tos in al­bums and slides are stacked up in a home in Ma­maro­neck, N.Y.You can re­store or­der to all those prints, slides, tapes and other old photo for­mats by dig­i­tal­iz­ing them or putting them in photo-safe boxes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.