We’ve all been there, finding that dusty old box in the basement - opening it up and finding a treasure trove of old photographs. These photos carry generations of memories that deserve to be protected and shared.
Let's get started!
You will need to gather all of your print photographs into one place, both the loose photos and those that are in albums.
Gather your tools
You will need lint free cotton gloves, small boxes to hold your sorted photographs, index cards - to act as temporary category separators, small stickies for notes, a microfibre cloth to wipe the photos down, photo safe pencil, un-du remover, waxed dental floss and a small spatula. Set up a table that you can leave set up over the course of the project. Commit to a period of time, say one hour at a time and work one box, one album at a time.
Start with your loose photographs
Sort by decade, don’t get hung up on exact dates. Use the clues in the photos to make your best estimate of the time frame, such as clothing, age of people, time of year and location. Use your index cards to separate your photo categories as you sort, use your stickies to write notes. As you are sorting now is the time to get rid of duplicate copies, similar photos and fuzzy shots. Flag those that you would like to digitize for a photo book, or slideshow.
Let's tack the albums!
Sort them chronologically, review and mark the photos that you would like to keep and remove them. If your photos are in a magnetic album - the ones that have an adhesive and a thin plastic film, it is crucial that the photos are removed as they will cause your photos to deteriorate over time. This is where your un-du remover, dental floss or spatula to loosen your photos from the page will come in handy - work slowly. As a last resort hair dryer on a very low temperature will help to loosen it. Add these photos to your sorting boxes. Now that you have completed your sort it is time to move your photos to a permanent box, choose a photo box that is acid free to keep your photos safe. Many will have dividing cards in them that you can use. Create a label for each divider. You can create subcategories within each decade - birthday, holidays, vacations.
Digitizing your print photos
Scan those photos that you would like to digitize. When scanning photos you will want to create Digital Photo Hub (DPH) - the one place on your computer that all of your photos live, and nothing else gets mixed in with them. Create folders in your DPH that mirror your newly organized photobox.
Avoid storing your photos in an area with fluctuating humidity such as a basement, garage or attic. Avoid hot and cold temperature fluctuations and store in a dark location. The top shelf in a bedroom closet is an ideal location that will guard against damage in the event of a flood.
About the Author:
Trish Keogh founder of Pictures in Place, a Photo Organizing Company. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your project.