They may be ones you took yourself, photos taken by parents of you and your siblings or their life before they met or even those taken by grandparents. Some are in albums, others scattered.
And you look at them and might have these thoughts:
Who are those people anyway?
What in the world am I going to do with them?
It can feel a little overwhelming -- and a little scary, so one step at a time!
As anyone who has tried to pull together photos for a picture board at a graduation, funeral or milestone birthday knows, it's tough to do it when you are under pressure. And these days, often a video is the preferred form of viewing and how in the world do you make that happen with this odd collection of paper memories.
I have those boxes and photo albums (my own and my parents), along with literally thousands of photos on my computer and external storage devices and I've wrestled with that issue -- trying to get them in some rightful order and to get the photos to those who might really care about them after.
Here are my tips -- feel free to add some of your own in the comments.
Rule Number One! Identify people. You may know who these folks are but as I've been doing my family history I've encountered a lot of anonymous faces that show up often. They must have been important to someone but I have no idea who they are! (Below, I can pick out four people in this group.)
A pencil marking on the back of hard copy (or a thin sharpie or specially designated photo markers) are fine. Just something to tell future generations if those are people they should care about or their great grandmother's next door neighbor's grandson playing with the family dog.
Two: Get them digitied. For the golden oldies -- two options.
The one I don't like is to take your camera or phone and photograph the piece. Sometimes this works. But you need a good camera and you need to be sure the photo is flat (lots aren't). And you if you are shooting an entire scrapbook page, you need to know how to crop. Not hard, but not the best method.
I prefer getting a scanner. A good scanner that can also do slides. The default for many scanners is 200 dpi and this is fine for most uses -- certainly the computer or smaller prints. If you are planning on making a printed book or bigger enlargement, go to the 300 resolution setting for the best outcome.
Rule Three: As technology changes, transfer the media while you can. Trust me -- if you look at a pile of old floppies you can't open containing old photos you'll cry. Everything changes. Transportation. Communication. Technology.
Think of the betamax, eight track and records. OK, I know vinyl is coming back, but the principal is the same.
One other tip. If you are going through the mechanics of doing all this, consider color correcting or brightening up the faded colors while you're at it. Your gray snow will look whiter, you may even pick up details on the photo that had faded. Many scanners have this feature. If you are looking at your regular photos, consider a program like Picassa where you can edit by color/brightness modification and crop. Some of these basic programs are free.
What's Next -- Or, How do I Find It?
So, you scan (and scan and scan). And now you have all these photos on your computer. On top of the ones from your digital camera you've already put in there. And you still can't find anything.
Everyone will have a different system but mine works pretty well. Here's how I do it, bearing in mind that I use a camera, not a phone. (The same principle would apply to phone or tablet shots, once they are downloaded.)
|Here you can see some of the folders I use when I initially subdivide.|
- For new photos, as I download them, I name a file with the year, month and then an idea of what's in the file. For example: 2018 June -- Lizzie, Ditch, Lake
- Then I make a file for all 2018 June and when the month is over (and you could do it before, I just don't) put all the individual files there. And then one for the year -- 2018. When the month is over, I move all the 2018 June to the 2018 file.
- At the end of the year I have all the photos for one year in one file.
Back up your best to an external drive or the cloud.
Then I edit. Again. I delete things with a vengeance. I do this with everything. This edit will probably be less if you did your work well before the back-up!
And it makes a big difference to your computer. I still have to edit half of 2018 but so far I picked up 34 gigabytes of memory on my computer!
After I have saved the "Best of" on an external drive or flash, I go back through and subdivide. Flowers go into a file called "Flowers." Family goes into "Family" and then gets subdivided ("Mom Only," "Mom and Dad," "Dad Only." The same for friends by name or group (like "Cork Poppers"). There are Travel US and Travel International and each is subdivided.
|The "Family" folder|
SO, when I am looking for photos for a blog post or to pull together a Shutterfly book for a friend or family, I know right where to go.
Photos Not Scanned or Otherwise on the Computer
The other ways to save and share photos are online, printed books, videos, old-time photo albums and scrapbooks.
Online: You can save the photos on the cloud. I have a google drive I use for family photos that I can share with the cousins. I also have a Shutterfly share site that has some of Rick's family things. I'm sure there are others; I just don't know them because I don't use them.
Printed Books: I use Shutterfly because it is what I started with but I have seen beautiful MacBooks, things from Snapfish, Blurb and other sources. These can get expensive but when they do I think about how much I used to pay for a) film b) developing c) all the bad ones you throw away after you got them back from the processor.
|Shutterfly project page|
Almost every year I make yearbooks for Rick and me -- an overview of friends, family, trips and such. These we actually look at because we have chosen the best of the pix and don't have to thumb through all the bad ones!
You can even add text. Or bad poetry.
Videos: There are loads of easy ways to make video slide shows on your computer and share them with youtube.
Traditional Methods: And sometimes you want to paste things into a book. I do. Maybe it's a beautiful handmade book or journal. If you're doing that, make sure it is a book worthy of your time and that it uses acid free paper as a background.
And if you still have photos in those magnetic page things -- pull out the good ones, dump the bad. Just get them out of there.
And when you are done -- well, if you no longer want those photos, you have a couple of options. I've used both. Toss them. Or, send them off to whomever is in them -- or knows those people -- and let them make the choice to save or toss. Half the time our friends never see all the great pix we took of them in the way-back machine and it's kind of fun to see yourself looking a whole lot better -- or at least younger -- than you are now!
Oh, here's a parting tip. We're all going to die. If you want photos shown at your memorial, choose them now. Make a folder called "funeral" and tell someone where it is and put in all your favorites. They will thank you and that really lousy photo of you in your swimming suit at the family reunion isn't going to show up -- unless you looked better than I did!
OR, make them yourself. When a friend's mom was nearing the end of her life, she began making the photo boards for the memorial so that she wouldn't have to do it in a short period during the grieving time. I have been thinking about making large collaged posters of the ones I would like for that time. I haven't done it yet because it doesn't seem too imminent. But then, we never know. And it would be so nice if Rick didn't have to worry about that.
If you've read along so far, thanks! And if you do anything -- please label!
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