Old photographs and slides are our treasures from the past. Whether they are black and white photos from an old family wedding or more recent, colored ones from a beach trip with our children, they hold our fondest memories. We love to look at them again and again, reliving the precious moments every time.
These prized possessions are not just reminiscent of the good old days but also valuable resources to keep your future generations aware of family roots and history. However, old photographs are prone to wear and tear. In fact, with time they can get severely damaged and you may end up losing memories forever. Considering slides, they are not just prone to damage but are also difficult to view. Carousel slide projectors are almost obsolete and the ‘slideshow era’ is long gone.
What to Do with Your Old Photographs and Slides?
Store Them Properly
Don’t store photographs and slides in the basement or attic. The basement is usually quite damp causing your photos to stick or prone to mold. The thin film on slides can easily attract mold growth under moist conditions. Similarly, the environment in the attic may be too hot which can accelerate the degradation of paper and ink. It can even cause the glue used in slides to melt and ruin the image. Overexposure to light can also fade the images and reduce the picture quality. Therefore, choose a relatively cool, dry and dark place to store your collections such as a separate closet.
Make sure to keep them away from dust by wiping them off using a microfiber cloth and replacing storage boxes regularly. Photos should lie flat on the box and not cramped for space. Also, don’t use paper clips, rubber bands, tape or glue on the photos as these can damage surfaces.
Acid-free paper or plastic albums are ideal to enclose photos. If the storage area is humid, use a paper album instead of a plastic one as plastic may stick to photo surfaces. As for slides, store them in carousel boxes.
Keep Them Organized
The worst thing you can do to your old photographs and slides is to build a cluster of them and store them in a haphazard manner or at different locations. You will end up misplacing valuable photos and finding a particular photograph or slide will become an impossible task!
Sort your photo and slide collections into broad categories based on time, places, events or people such as childhood, travel, birthdays, grandparents, etc. Use boxes or large folders to store each category and label them accordingly. Try not to label individual photos by directly writing on the sides or at the back but if you have to, always do it with a pencil. Best is to use enclosures that allow you to write labels on a separate paper or card.
Digitize the Photos
Even though providing perfect storage conditions and keeping your collections organized can significantly increase the life of your photos and slides, it’s recommended that you go for a permanent and more reliable solution.
Convert your vintage photographs and slides into digital copies by either scanning them on your own or hiring a photo and slide scanning service for the task. Once done, you’ll have to organize the digital albums. Keep the photos into different folders, each labeled with date, place, and event so that you can easily find and access the photo later on.
That being said, you can store these digital items on your laptop, computer, external hard drive or opt for cloud storage, which is obviously a more preferable option. In any case, have a back up for the files so that you avoid the risks of losing them due to technical glitches.
How Can You Digitize Photos?
Digitizing photos is a highly recommended option if you want to preserve the memories forever. Plus, doing so also allows you to access the photos whenever you want, wherever you want.
Let’s take a look at some common techniques of converting all your photos into a digital format.
Avail a Professional Photo Digitizing Service
When digitizing photos, this is the best option to go with. Not only do you enjoy remarkable quality, but the entire process is done pretty quickly than if you were to do it on your own. When availing a photo digitizing service, you’ll have to pack up your photos properly and either drop them at their office or mail them on the provided address.
After they have been converted into a digital form, the company will send back the physical photos or ask you to pick up from their stores. They’ll also share the final digital files on a DVD or a cloud platform.
If you want, you can also request the photo and the slide scanning service to edit the digitized photos. This involves correcting each and every image for lighting, brightness, red eyes and other typical photo errors.
You may have to pay an extra charge to avail the service, but then keep in mind that the produced photos are completely flawless. So the extra money spent is worth it.
Sometimes old photos may also get damaged either due to wear and tear or environmental factors. In any case, photo digitizing services may be able to repair these images after having converted them.
What if You Want to Do the Task at your Home?
Sure, you can scan digital photos at your home as well. The process doesn’t involve too many technicalities, but it can take too much efforts and time, especially if there are too many photos that you want to digitize.
Invest in a scanner that is designed for photos or use a regular flatbed scanner for the purpose. You can also take images from your phone, but that may result in lower resolution and poor quality digital photos.
Indeed, the most effective ways to preserve your memories and keep them safe forever is to digitize all your photos. Doing so prevents physical damage, makes the photos accessible from anywhere and allows them to be shared with ease – so that everyone can relive the precious moments together!
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