So many of you know the story on my father. We were close. Closer than any father and daughter I know. When I found out his cancer was terminal it rocked my world and I colapsed on the inside. I cried almost nightly but put up a brave front for him and stood strong when he could not. It was my turn to care for his needs and I tried with the best of my mind body and soul to do what I knew best. Then there came a time that he was gone and I was left with a life full of love and care and fantastic memories of my daddy. My father and I both loved to take pictures. So one day i sat down in my livingroom and realized that I had two shelves of photo albums...and I mean full albums. Close to or over 5000 different photos of my life was on those shelves. The funny thing is that I never opened them. Maybe once a year I would open one or two and just look through that portion of my life. So how could I take better care of them and preserve the memories I cherished without it taking up so much space and time (cleaining and orgaizing) in my life. So the project began.
I started scanning, and scanning, and scanning, and scanning. The more I scanned the more pictures I found (i decluttered all closets and drawers and hanging pictures to make sure I got them all). Long story short I ended up with over 6000 pictures that needed to be scanned or digitally organized. I even pulled from parents cameras and computers and photo albums. If I was going to do this I wanted to do this all the way. I had my sweet sweet husband convert all my VCR tapes from my childhood to DVD then download them to my computer. Long story short as much as I can tell, I got rid of close to 6-10 boxes of pictures and videos. They are now stored on my "backups" and my computer. We find ourselves looking through them once a week or so and I organized them by date so I can find a picture I am looking for within a few moments. I can make slideshows in a heartbeat. When we think of a memory of jess we pull up the videos and try to find it but always get stuck laughing about old videos we find of her in the process.
This also allows for one other thing that is very personal. I dont always want to be reminded that my daddy is not a call away. I want to access his pictures when I want to. I want to have it at my fingertips when I want it not because I happen to run across it because I am cleaning out a drawer. I dont need to fall to my knees in tears at any given moment and I wanted a little control over that. So now his pictures are accesable on my terms. I can cry when I want, I can laugh when I want and I can remember when I want but not just at random.
I did keep my favorite 1000 or so in 2 large photo albums and put all large photos that I loved in a scrap book with just some simple scrapbook paper. It took me all of an hour and maybe $120 in supplies (photo albums, a simple scrapbook paper packed 10ct or so from walmart and backup drives but it does not include the scanner I purchased) I love looking through them now and then.
So my tips are as follows for scanning (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER):
-Places like Wolf camera can scan pics for you as long as they are under 8x10. It may be a great price for those who are limited on time. I know they have some pretty fantastic deals for bulk and I think I probably should have done that instead! Bring your own external drive or memory card and load it directly on to it. FedEx/Kinkos will scan larger items for cheap ($2.00 a scan, for larger items and protraits that might be worth it) if you bring your own memory they can put it on, otherwise be prepared to pay $5 or so for a DVD of what you scanned. Plus the actual cost of scanning.
-Do a little at a time. DO NOT overload yourself, scan them in small stacks.
-Organize all your pictures by date, then subject, then the number in the series then who is in the picture (this is the most consuming part of the entire process) how specific you are is up to you but I am very detailed by nature, you might find just a date works for you.
-Go through ALL of your pictures and memories. I was suprised at where I found pictures that really needed to be put with the photo albums.
-Set aside one time a month for downloading all new media (pics from cameras, facebook(if desired), phones and video
-Backup backup backup did I mention back up. Online or hard drive I dont care just back it up!!!!! I waited for beginning of school to purchase mine and got 2 great deals!
-Throw out all doubles. I ended up getting rid of 1000 or so doubles and the really sad part was I had hauled all those doubles of pics to 4-5 different homes and across the country over the years. We now have around one moving box worth of my favorite pictures and two usb drives that have all the pictures and videos on them.
-Feel free to get rid of all the originals or just put them in nice binded photoalbums/boxes and be done with it. I prefer photo albums that match! Whatever you decide to keep them in lable them. I lable mine numerically starting at 1. You could do dates for major events or whatever just dont have 20 albums with no idea of what is each one
-Use a quility scanner and computer and backup on a daily basis in case of failure by computer or umm operator error
-When it comes to filing them on the computer I made a folder labled Pics and have a file for each season of my life it starts with "ancestry" and ends with "Garrett and forward". This next year I will start making a file by year as we dont expect any large changes in the near future! One day i may change it and make it all by year but right now its an easy way for me to find it.
For those who like to keep hard copies of pics, some tips for you
-Organize in the same order. Date, Event, Number in series then who is in the picture. We all forget names I find it so important for lables to be on every picture for my kids in the future and one day when my memory is not so great I will apriciate this I am sure. If you ever choose to scan them and make them digital then you have done alot of the hard work.
-I write on the back of mine with a fine tip sharpie and let it dry upside down. Dont press to hard it will go through. They might make pens for this but i have not looked.
-I like photo boxes. They are small easy to carry and come with organizing sheets normally. If I ran out of the tabbed papers/dividers provided I would just grab some index cards and make my own. Have fun with it. Make the seperators colorful and dont be bashful about writing alot of information on the cards. Memories connect us with the past so write down as much as you want of the fun you are having or the joy you experienced in that time.
-Be careful with scrapbooking. Simply from a financial standpoint it can be very very very costly without even realizing it. There are lots of great digital scrapbooking resources (shutterfly and many other sites) now for pennies on the dollar to what you would spend in actual supplies. Plus consider that scrapbooking is great if you have the financial resources and time to do it. Most of us though can think of a better way to spend an entire weekend and a few hundred dollars. (side note: I know some people love this and that is fine but reality is that most just dont have the time for it or financial resources, i am not trying to offend but instead be realistic)
-Medium size albums seem to stand up better to the test of time. Large albums with a capacity of 600+ pictures, in the past, have come apart for me.
-ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure your pictures are on acid free paper. If you have old albums (think from childhood) I would consider getting new albums. You just dont want any acid touching sweet memories, it will ruin photos over time. All recent albums I have looked at are acid-free as are all cardstock.
If you are scared to scan pictures and not have the hard copy for kids to look at, I looked at it this way. My children are and will be very technilogically minded. That is what our future children will know and use. I long for my kids to be able to read a real book and enjoy pictures just like i do but it may not be realistic for them to love that as much as I do. So i look at it as a way to share with them my past through the love they will of for technology. I mean, my kid already has a digital camera! Sometimes we have to reach out to them on their level and terms!
As always please feel free to add ideas and suggestions!