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‘Old photos go digital’ is a project Jim and I have tinkered with off and on for several years.
This past year, like many, we spent more time on these projects that took time but have only done infrequently. Have you heard of Ancestry.com? It’s one of several DNA testing kits available. One rainy and cold days, it became Jim’s hobby in addition to gardening. That was the jump off point, the incentive to go through old photos from great grandparents and the families.
older generational photos
These photos are family history. Like most old photos we can learn a lot about the era when they were taken while learning a lot about our families and how they lived. It’s a historical biograhical photo essay.
His family has multiple albums.
There a fewer photos on my family whose lives were very different. Their primary occupations were farmers and small town business owners. A fire in one of the homes in my mom’s family destroyed most of the photos, family papers and Bible. I don’t have many of her family or of my father’s. Thorough Ancestry, I now have some copies immigration papers, birth and death certificates.
I don’t have many of her family or of my father’s. Thorough Ancestry, I now have some copies immigration papers, bath and death certificates.
prepare to go digitial
First, you must know, we are no experts!
Secondly, Create a workflow. This maybe a trial and error process to find what suits you best. Organization of the photos is the start point! Jim is working on preserving his famiy’s old photo albums. The photos are already organized be days and events. If you are faced with organizing random photos, organizing them in a consistant way is so important! If you have ever searched through your digital or stored photos and can’t find a particular one, you know how important organization is. It doesn’t matter which system you use or how you do it. All that matters is does it work for you! Also, decide how you are saving your digitalized photos. Our photos are automatically saved to several storage sites.
Third, in addition to digitalizing, are there photos you want in an album? What kind of album do you want, a printed onefrom sites like Shutterfly or a traditional one with physical photos and documents. Identify those particular photos to be used and set them aside as you go through the various piles, slides or files. This is important to your workflow to avoid duplicating tasks. If you are working with printed photos, keep a trash can by your side!
do it yourself
After studying the ‘how to’s ‘ for perserving photos, associated costs and our own availablilty and ability to learn, we decided to tackle this perservation project ourselves.
Our former guest room is now the multi use room. It is set up for function. there is photo and slide storage with work surfaces to work on for photo organization.
We have one chair, our Pelton and art supplies in addition to Amy’s college TV, a laptop and desktop computer. It’s not pretty but the light is good and there is enough space. One day I’ll get to pretty!
This is the Epson Perfection 600 photo scanner I purchased after researching on line for affordable recommendations. It will scan into your computer your photos, images, negatives and documents.
Jim began to go through the photos. There are fascinating ones of his great aunts on his father’s side of their trip around the world. Old glamourous travel of a gone by era!
There is also one of his mom’s family. She was a child when her family immigrated from Germany.
They are primarliy in the old style black page photo albums. Sadly, there is one more recent album someone pasted all the photos on the now brittle pages.
I have to research how to handle those photos. When taking these photographs today, I found it.
It was tucked under this memento box in one of the dresser drawers. This dresser adds some style to this functional room. It belonged to my parents. Chances are high I will never paint it!
After setting up the scanner and learning how to use it, Jim started scanning the photos. The organization was done because he was recreating the photos albums. His goal is to preserve the photos in new archival albums using acid free products and to digitalize them for stoarge.
He wants to keep the original album covers. I reminded him to include blank pages to protect the first and last pages with photos from the non-archival inside the covers. Because these photos have been in the albums all these years, the photos do not need any restoration so I am not addressing that process.
It is a multi-step process. He’ll scan the photos then place them on the clean refill page sheets exactly in the same spot and affix them with the photo corners creating a new album. New pages will be created for the documents from Ancestry and other non photo items.
I ordered the refill pages and photo corners from Amazon. The page size is 11×14. Here is the link for the refill sheets. Look around at the associated albums. We are using black pages in the 11×14 size that is typical of much older photo albums, just like Jim’s family’s.
This is not a project he wanted to send out to a professional organizer. It’s a lot of tedious repeative tasks but going through these albums himself. Why? These are his family’s stories and he wanted to do this himself.
A labor of love.
Most of my family’s are already scanned. We’ll print them out to put in an similar album with a different cover.
prepare and plan for success
This can be a daunting project to face when digitalizing old photos. Preparing well before you start is important for planning the workflow and to be able to complete the project instead of quitting in frustration. Will there be false starts? Most likely! It is part of the process of setting yourself up for sucessful completion of any digitalizing and organizing photo projects. Prepare and plan is key!
**Determine how you will organize which group of photos, albums or slides you want to do first. Breaking down this large project into parts is a must.
**Decide what equipment and materials you will need. Purchase as needed. Set up your work place where it can be undisturbed during the project.
**Always use archival products for physical albums and storage containers.
**Recommendation for damaged old photos. Have a professional repair them or use one of the many optons for doing it yourself. Set them aside for follow through once you decide which way you will restore them. A couple of decades ago I used a professional to restore and reprint with select photos that were not in albums and had them framed. We duplicated the portrait photo of his grandparents for Jim’s cousins as a gift.
**Label photo prints you are keeping with archival pens. No guessing games for future archivists!
satisfaction for a job well done
When I get tired of preserving and organizing our photos, slides and digital ones, I am encouraged by remembering. This is a Labor of Love!
Don’t let discouragement or being overwhelmed keep you for undertaking on a photo project. It will be so satisfying when you finish! Any recommendations, encouragement or experiences to share with my readers? We would love to hear from you!