Each of us have a pile of photos sitting somewhere in our drawers or closets, right? One report that I came across showed that the average family is adding about 3,000 photos, filmstrips, and slides every year, with approximately 1.5 trillion photos around the world. In my home there are at least 4,000 photos. What about you?
Our memories will naturally fade over time, so entrust photos to record the moments of our lives along the way. When you look at your collection of photos, you get to relive that experience and feel all those forgotten feelings. Photos truly are our treasured memories!
But where do you store these treasured memories? In a closet? In a storage locker? In a shoebox? Is it safe to store it there? Is there any protection?
I believe most people know there are one or two places in their house where these family photos are kept, but how many people have opened them? Eventually, these photos may be forgotten in the bottom of the cabinet, fade, become a home for insects, get damaged by natural disasters like floods or earthquakes, accidentally thrown out with the rubbish, get lost moving house. There are far too many ways we can lose these life photos.
Most people haven’t thought of ways to keep these memories alive. Allow me to give you a few reasons as to why you need to digitize these treasured life photos right now.
1. It’s a hassle to view
This is the normal response from people. Think about all those photos stored away, no organization, no classification. It’s a hassle just to think about taking them out to have a look! It may have been years since they were last viewed and those storage boxes have just been sitting collecting dust. You are allergic to dust, so you need to wear a mask, but what about your hands? The sweat and oils from your hands could damage the photos, so now you need to wear gloves, and then you carefully take these photos out and place them on the living room floor… what next?
Without any classification where does one begin?
How much time will you spend looking at them is another problem.
After moving the photos out for the first time and spending some time browsing, you then need to pack them back up and put them back. I think after that ordeal most people will not begin to think about taking out those treasures again.
Viewing photos is actually relatively easy. However, if you want to view a positive slide then you have to dig out that old projector from the bottom of the closet (and it may not even work). When viewing negatives filmstrips, you might only be able to guess what the image is about.
What if you still have those videotapes, where can you watch them?
2. Photos have lifecycles and time is against you
If you haven’t already started digitizing your collections, then you will never truly understand how delicate these treasures are.
When in storage, the colors on the photos will begin to degrade. Some photos will begin to fade and a yellow hue will emerge; others will get a blueish hue. Seeing photos in this condition definitely won’t make you feel the excitement of remembering those treasured moments. It’s not good enough.
The filmstrips and slides are much the same. The color will fade over time; the plastic substance of the film will begin to distort and the dyes will become offset.
Many of the photos may not have been processed well. They could be riddled with coffee stains or watermarks. Perhaps they were not stored well, so the humidity and temperature caused the photos to stick and clump together. Additionally, time has left marks on the photos which over the years have made them scratched and brittle.
What about moving? This one is a big photo killer. When we move we often discard old photos or films. Even if we regret throwing them away later on, in that moment we understood that our new home might not be big enough, that we needed to get rid of the old ones to clear out space without even realizing the significance of them.
If your photos survive all of that… what about natural disasters, fires, floods, earthquakes? These events are becoming ever more uncertain and unpredictable. That is why it is even more important to put in the hard work now, as when an unexpected event occurs, you may have just saved those treasured memories.
3. There are so many benefits to digitize your photos
As stated before, these memories are delicate! So once you digitize them you can rest assured that they will be always be preserved. Digitized images don’t age and once they are stored electronically you can make these memories last forever.
No need to wear face masks, gloves or any other protective equipment to view those old film negatives and positives.
After turning photos digital, you can back up the digital files to a variety of storage options (e.g., external hard drives, the cloud, or DVD-RW Disks) to get even more protection. Also, when it’s stored online you can share these photos with your family and friends at any time, without any inconvenience.
It is also far easier to sort your family photo collection. If you haven’t digitized your collection yet, it could become impossible to find that one photo you want to see. You may have given up trying to find it because it took up so much time to find. With digitized files, you can add time stamps, tags, and annotations so that you can quickly find whichever photo you are looking for.
4. Scanning photos is fun
“What? Isn’t scanning photos such a chore? How is that fun?”
It’s simple. Know the right method and have good equipment, then the scanning process will be enjoyable. Before you begin scanning, you need to organize and categorize your photos and films. Doing this can bring back some forgotten memories. How many times in your life do you get to so vividly recall treasured memories? Even once you have found the photo, converted it to an electronic file and then view it, the experience is not comparable. As you get to spend so much time digging around for that treasure, you get to experience the greatest connection once you find it. Find a few days or a weekend you have free, and spend some time sorting your old photos and films. This can be a wonderful activity you can do at your leisure.
These memorable moments of your life are not limited to photos. How about scanning your children’s kindergarten drawings, school awards, academic achievements, and professional certificates? You can also scan those postcards from your sightseeing trips or those newspaper clippings you collected in your younger years, and so on. Anything that evokes precious moments or is worthy of remembering can be scanned and made digital.
5. Sharing memories
You would never share the originals of those most treasured photos or negative films, even with your relatives. That is far too risky!
You know that these are the only copies that remain, and you don’t know what will happen once you hand them over. Once they are lost or damaged, you will never be able to replicate them the same.
But once you get them scanned to digital files, you can share them as much as you like!
Reminiscing is one of the great pleasures in life. When we scan, we often find old photos of forgotten friends or old classmates, and once again get the opportunity to reminisce the greatest and purest times of our life.
You can always put them on Facebook, but sending those digital images to old friends or relatives on a specific day could give you the opportunity to reconnect with those people you have lost contact with over time. The excitement of reconnecting and chatting about the memories, finding out where your classmates are now, what they have accomplished since you last spoke will give you the chance to have an intimate topic to talk about with people you haven’t spoken to in too long, getting to reunite and re-ignite those old friendships.
6. Give your children a life legacy
Our Parents, Grandparents, Children, and even our own lives stories are important. These are important legacies we can leave to future generations.
Family has always been at the center of our lives. Do you remember on New Year’s Day, when you and the whole family would get together and take family photos? That time you took your wife and kids to the amusement park and took all those photos? Or that time your dad was wearing his military uniform and took the entire family to get a family photo?
Your kids have grown up, you have grown up, there are photos being taken for every occasion, and everyone keeps only a few. These are the memories your whole family shares. Don’t you want to organize them to give to your kids? Tell them all about your parents, grandparents and your own life?
Your photos, filmstrips and slides won’t last forever. When they are gone, the history that was there will also disappear. Is that okay?