Got Old Pictures?

by Jiffy Page

'60s winter family tobogganing fun
'60s family tobogganing fun

Who doesn’t? Prints, slides, negatives, videos – photos in albums, piled in shoeboxes, metal slide cases or carousels shoved in a closet, attic or basement. And maybe your parents downsized and entrusted you with even more old family pictures. More unopened boxes…


You know the memories are important; you know that at least some of them should be preserved and shared. But, how? Where do you begin?


First things first and it’s an easy first step – If you do nothing else, move the pictures to a dark and dry location with stable humidity and temperature. A closet in the main part of the house will do just fine, as long as it is away from the laundry or bath rooms. Burst water pipes do terrible things to pictures.


Photographic images have a life span. If kept in good conditions, color prints can last about 50 years and black-and-white prints about 100 years. Most videos deteriorate after 10 to 15 years. A shelf in the corner of a damp basement or a box in the attic where temperatures fluctuate seasonally will cause photos to degrade more quickly.


Tackling the “preserving” part - Scanning your tangible pictures to make digital copies is a wise way to preserve your photographic memories. You can do the scanning yourself, or you can “hire out.” The only "right way" to do it is the one that ensures the scanning project will actually get finished. Once the original picture is scanned, store it to best preserve it, ideally in archival plastic sleeves laid flat in archival safe boxes, binders or albums (available online or locally) and in an interior closet in your home. Be sure to keep your newly digital photos safe by backing them up on an external hard drive or off-site storage, either online, in a safe deposit box, or by sending copies to family members who live elsewhere.


Where do you begin? Start with the pictures you would be most devastated to lose and those of which you only have one copy. Look at the framed photographs in your home as we tend to display those pictures most dear to us. Then begin with the oldest photographs and work your way to the most recent images.


If you’re planning a move - It is the perfect time to get your pictures scanned. Give copies of the digital images to family members and you’ll have the peace of mind that those memories won’t be lost or damaged. And like your other valuables, be sure to move your tangible pictures yourself.


Now, what about sharing those pictures and stories?  Your digital copy of the picture makes it easy and fun to do. Is there a family event coming up – a significant anniversary or birthday? Bar or bat mitzvah? Wedding? Graduation? An annual family reunion or vacation? These events are the perfect opportunity to tell a family story with pictures.


Think about the story you want to tell and your audience. A video show is often a great addition to a party. A book may be the best way to tell of your grandparents’ journey to America. A small digital frame loaded with family pictures is a great high school graduation gift. Got a family that plays card games? Consider a customized deck of cards with family faces young and old.


Sometimes, simplest is best – a disc with copies of all the scanned images is a great way to share those family memories. Imagine the conversation with your children if you simply put your grandmother’s baby picture as your computer’s screensaver.


Whatever you do, please take care of your pictures and tell your stories. Yes, it takes time but it is even more fun and rewarding. Promise! And know we’re here for information or assistance.  Don’t hesitate to contact us – however you prefer…phone, email, FB message, text, Tweet… 

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