Is your home drown­ing in old pho­tos

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - LIFESTYLES - 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,” says 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.

“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.

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.

Hav­ing all im­ages on a disk or thumb drive 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 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.”

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