One of the things I’ve done to try to prevent memories from being lost is to ask all my aunts and uncles (and anyone else I can) to let me scan the old picture albums. Most old albums that were used were before people realized that the acid in paper would yellow and destroy photos – so the earlier you digitize pictures the better. You can now get all sorts of acid free supplies, but I found that even trying to remove the photos from the albums might tear and destroy them.
Originally I used the HP Photosmart 7280 printer/scanner. It has the ability to work as a flatbed scanner or you can sheetfeed through a stack of photos. All our family photos that I had from when my kids were little are paper photos, so those I was able to just feed through in a stack. I would start them scanning and come back later to find the pile finished. (This included the 12 rolls my husband took on our honeymoon that were all of the great scenery.) I may send one of those off today to have a big poster made for our anniversary (19th). Now I have the Magic Wand scanner in my pile of tools. It’s great for scanning things at relatives houses and even books that can’t be removed from the library. It’s a small handheld scanner that uses batteries and scans to a microSD card. These aren’t the highest resolution, but it’s a start.
Once in a while the copy I find is a copy printed from a copy, so resolution takes even more of a hit – but in some cases the originals may not be available, or have degraded so badly that the copy is the highest resolution. If you are going to preserve lots old old photos having good software is a must. I’ve tried several, memory manager from Creative memories is good for a beginner, but isn’t heavy duty enough. Photoshop Elements is pretty great for the Album feature, I have notes, albums, and sharing all set up. But for heavy duty editing something like Photoshop is really ideal. (Gimp is a free alternative with the same features). I actually even have a book on restoration…. Some are below. One is even available for the Kindle.
The toughest part of course is knowing who’s in the photo. I actually stuck little post it notes next to what photos before scanning to identify the people (My grandmother at the time was with me). After scanning I editing the tags out, but as I put them in photoshop album I added notes for who was in the photos. I also could tag them with the people so that when doing a search I could identify every photo of that person. I currently have over 10,000 pictures, so organization is essential. (Those include our family pics too).
I’ll post pics in my next post. I also have to mention backups, since doing all this work would be pretty painful if a hard drive crash took it all out. I have several backup methods that include using photoshop.com to backup and share photos. Me.com for a few things, and Mozy for full backup of important files (not just pics and video). I also have an external hard drive for a local backup. Having more than one method of backup is important. (And don’t forget you want a backup off site too, so if something happens to your house your still covered.)
I also have converted our old VHS tapes, slides, 8MM films and more to digital. The toughest being the old 8MM since it’s really tough to find a bulb for an 8MM projector now. We have one more to go for that…. 🙂 It actually was one that turned up a couple years after we finished, so we don’t have the projector anymore. I have it waiting while I consider options. There are services that do this for about 12 cents a foot. It might be worth it for one reel. Projectors for these varied too, I might be able to find one on Ebay – but this might be so much easier. The negatives are another story though. We have a lot of these left, so having the equipment could make life a lot easier. VHS to DVD is really the easiest conversion.