Fire. Flood. Moving. Divorce. Death. Age.
There are a lot of reasons that a photograph may become destroyed. Sadly, many priceless and irreplaceable memories are lost simply due to human failure: failure to share and to save.
SAVE YOUR PHOTOS: Old Stuff
September is save your photos months (source: http://www.saveyourphotos.org/).
First, let’s look at the age of analog. Non-digital photos.
Somehow over the last 10 years, I became the unoffical currator of family photos. When a family member passes away or an old family photo is found, some how it comes to live with me.
The first thing I do is Scan it and back it up digitally. Older photos printed on non-acid free paper can fade, and even become easily damaged. Scanning the photos allows me to have a digital copy of a photo that may, in another 10 years, be gone.
The second thing I do is to identify and document who the photo is of and what I can find out about the photo. I cannot adequately express how priceless this information can someday be… so I’ll share the example:
This is a family photo. Now, if I handed this to my brothers (who are 12 and 18 years my younger), would they know who is in this photo or why it might be significant? Probably not. Unless, they saw my documentation of the photo:
The toddler in the bicycle basket is my dad, born 1957. Standing directly behind him is my Great-Grandfather Joseph Mills, who died September 14, 1966.
Without such facts being written down, it is likely this knowledge would disappear within a generation of myself.
Take the time to ask family members to allow you to scan and save old photos. Scan them all, even if you are not sure that it is a good photo of the person or if it doesn’t seem significant. You may never know if it may be one of the few photos of that person that may exist.
Case in point: My Paternal grandmother had a little sister that died around the age of 8. Until just a few years ago, it was thought that there was only one photo of the sister that existed. Until, a distant cousin passed away leaving me a small box of photos. Among those, was one photo that left me speechless.. a slightly blurry photo of my great-aunt taken just weeks before she tragically died. I scanned the photo, and took a copy to my grandmother. Even my grandmother had never seen the photo, and stated that before that time only one photo was known to have existed of her precious sister.
Save Your Photos: New Stuff
Over the last ten years, we have certainly seen an influx of digital photography. We are in a society that we are often snapping photos with our cellular devices and taking hundreds of photos with a digital camera.
But what then?
About 5 years ago, I dove into the world of pocket scrapbooking. I’ve always been a memory keeper, clipping articles and saving things. In my pocket scrapbooking, though, I began to see just how rarely I shared what I took.
So, I began to do a few things:
- Weekly, I sort through my photos to weed out duplicates and bad photos
- Monthly, I back up my cell phone photos onto my computer
- Quarterly, I back up my digital files onto my external drive
- Twice a year, I burn my photos onto two sets of cds..one for at home and the other for the safety deposit
Let me add one additional thing..
SHARE the photos you take with family and friends. Send them in texts, post them online, print them and mail them to a loved one.
Because some times, it may be the last picture.
A few years ago, I ran into a friend of my dad’s while I was traveling. We talked and before I left, I snapped a quick selfie. I messaged it to my dad’s friend and to my dad.
Six months later, I attended their funeral. The picture I took of the two of us was one of the last pictures taken before their sudden illness.