Even in our current digital age, most of us still have stacks of physical photos. They might be pictures from your childhood or school days, or old family photos that you inherited. If you have drawers or albums full of pictures in no particular order, here are some ways to finally get them under control.
1. Remove – Most old photo albums are not acid free and, therefore, will damage your pictures over time. Carefully remove them but keep in envelopes separated by album. Label the envelopes with relevant information: date, location, people, and events.
2. Sort – Not every photo is a keeper. Go through your entire collection and toss those that are out of focus, duplicates, or no longer meaningful. If you have pictures of people or places you can’t identify, they probably are not of use to you and certainly won’t be to the next generation.
3. Scan – This step is optional but recommended because it makes it much easier to share and display your pictures. It also protects your memories in case the original copies are damaged in your home. You can scan photos yourself at some big-box, office supply, and drug stores that offer photo services. Locally, the public library in Brewerton has this equipment available for use by appointment. An easier way is to use a scanning service such as ScanMyPhotos. Package and ship your photos, and they are returned along with a DVD or USB containing the digital files. I will address organizing digital photos in a future email.
4. Store – Once you have paired down and scanned your photo collection, you will want to set up a storage system. I prefer photo boxes to albums for flexibility, space efficiency, and ease of setup. Invest in some sturdy, acid-free boxes sized for photos. Use dividers to separate photos by time period (decades may be specific enough for your collection) and then further by events, people, or locations.
5. Display – One of the big advantages of scanning photos is the ease with which you can view and display them. Most computers come equipped with software that will play a slideshow of selected images, or you can invest in a digital picture frame that will scroll through a large number of photos.
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