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Take an Extra Step Before You Scrapbook

Use digital storage to keep your memories safe

by Annette Yen  |  2757 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Ten years ago, my best friend died of cancer.  It all happened very fast and was pretty unbelievable.  In a whirlwind, her husband was charged with the terrible task of picking out a grave plot and a headstone and planning a funeral. All that on top of caring for two young girls and making sure he didn't lose his full-time job.

About two days after she passed away, my husband and I stopped by his house to drop off a meal.  He was in the dining room, photographs spread all over the table, sobbing. "I want the right ones," he was saying. "I want the ones where people will see her... the real her." He was intent on getting a video of various photos of his young wife's life together for the funeral so that everyone would remember what a wonderful woman she was.  Back in those days, that was no easy task.

Photographs hold powerful memories.  That's why we all have so many of them in boxes in our closets, under our beds and in our basements. And that's why the scrapbooking trend continues to grow at an enormous rate.  People want to keep their photos for generations. They want those family memories to stay alive for their progeny and beyond.

If you're like my friend and like me, many of your photos are bent, old, and just plain tired looking.  It's estimated that there are billions of photographs stuck in boxes all over the world because people want to hang onto them, but shoeboxes are not the best places for your photos.  At the very least, you should have your pictures in archival boxes and preferably in archival-safe photo albums and scrapbooks.

But did you know that there's another way now to keep your old print photos safe? With scanners and all the digital imaging companies out there, the best way to ensure that those photos are kept for many generations to come is to store them digitally.  Several companies on the Internet will convert your print pictures to digital, and there are even companies that will store copies of the digital images for a lifetime.  Before you take the time to scrapbook them, you'd be wise to take this additional step in photo archiving.

But don't just trust your hard drive or CDs. Hard drives can crash and CDs can break or be scratched. Make sure you find a good lifetime storage company so that those memories will be easy to access should something happen with your computer.

Another great benefit to digitizing your old paper prints is that they can be easily shared with others. Once you've scanned and uploaded them to an online photo sharing site, you can email those photos to loved ones all over the world.  Imagine all the smiles and joy as the memories of days passed are rekindled for friends and family alike. Most of these companies also allow you to make not only prints but products with those pictures as well -- even a DVD like my friend wanted for his wife's funeral.

About the Author

Annette Yen loves photography and sharing her family memories. Visit her website to sign up for a free photo account and find out more about storing your photos digitally.

Read more by Annette Yen

2 comments so far...

  • Great points Mary - thanks! And that's why I titled the article "...before you scrapbook". I still think it's important to do something with the actual photos - even if they stay organized in a photo safe box somewhere. But keep them safe!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Annette Yen on 25th April 2008

  • Good article. Photos and digital together will perserve your memories a long, long time. I have a friend who is an archival librarian. Her tip on photographs?

    All photographs should have digital backups, but remember: technology changes very quickly. It is almost a sure thing that your children's great-grandchildren will not be able to see the pictures stored on a disk, any more than most of us can play vinyl records any more. (And vinyl was still current technology only 20 years ago!)

    So, though digital storing is important, you'll have to update the technology regularly.

    And you should always keep the original photographs. The technology will change, but you can always look at a photograph.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 24th April 2008