Organizing Family Photos
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Organizing Family Photos
I am looking for an organizer/photo editor to help wade
through years of digital images and organize them onto
disks. This would likely involve deleting duplicates,
creating folders by date/event and producing a photo book,
perhaps one for each year of the best photos. If you know of
anyone who takes on these kinds of jobs, please let me know!
I am guessing it would mean several hours, some of it
working independently and some of it helping me to edit down
our existing files. Thanks for any suggestions! Laura
I can strongly recommend the services of Cathy Cade who
specializes in projects related to personal histories and
photography. Her website is at http://www.CathyCade.com.
Cathy has helped me cull YEARS of photos, sort, delete
duplicates and poor quality shots, (only after checking wit
me!) and organize photo projects for gifts. She is smart,
thoughtful, has a great eye for beauty and an appreciation
of organization and archiving. Jen
So I've checked the archives but can't find quite what I'm looking for.
I've been dutifully getting prints from Shutterfly and putting them in
albums for our son since I have always been sad that I don't have any
photos from my childhood and I don't want him to feel the same way when
he grows up. But now that we have a second child I just don't have the
time, energy, or money to keep doing it. We store our digital photos
on Shutterfly and just got a Mac so we'll start using iPhoto, but I
don't like the idea of having the photos just on the computer. I love
the idea of the kids being able to look through albums when they are
older. Any suggestions about a good middle ground of being able to
actually see the photos but keeping the time commitment more
reasonable? Will hard copies even stand the test of time?
Too many photos!
My recommendation is to get one of the new digital picture frames for
displaying the photos. I have been assisting all my friends/clients who
got these over the holidays. The frames can pull photos from your PC or
you can load a memory card with photos and it will display a new pict
every 5 seconds and play music. It is a great way to keep photos top of
mind and you can have photos of both kids showing in one place.
The more expensive and advanced digital picture frames can pull photos
directly from photo sharing sites like Flickr, Picasa, etc. So if you
wanted you could take pictures, have them on your computer, also on a
photo site and then have them automatically displayed on your digital
picture frame through your home wireless network.
Even with that I would still recommend backing up photos to an archival
quaility CD/DVD and storing them somewhere safe. Then you can just hand
your kids a box of CDs or DVDs when your cleaning out your house in 30
Since you already have your photos on Shutterfly you might try ordering
one of their photobooks. We just did this for a Christmas gift for family
and I have to say everyone was pretty impressed with the quality. Unlike
a traditional photo album the photos, backgrounds, and captions are
printed on the same page, almost like a coffee table book. I'm not sure
what the longevity is, but I'm guessing it's pretty good, and the process
is certainly easier than printing individual pictures and putting them in
a book. Good luck with keeping up!
Fellow photo fanatic
I have hundreds of digital pictures of my son, some of which I
would like to have printed to send to relatives in friends every
3 or 4 months to keep them abreast of his growth. I've tried
Ofoto and SnapFish, and while I do like their results, I am
looking for something a bit more portable than a 4x6 picture.
Any ideas or suggestions of an exisiting format?
How about putting them on a CD and sending that out? Or
email? Or a memory stick? You could also get a free account
at Flickr.com and post your pics there for people to view
I cannot recommend highly enough WINKFLASH.com. High thee to WINKFLASH for
excellent prices and better printing results than SnapFish or Kodak/Ofoto. They
print up a wide variety of sizes, including WALLET size (39 cents for a sheet of 4).
They have great prices on 4 x 6's, at 12 cents each print, and 99 cents shipping NO
MATTER HOW MANY PRINTS YOU ORDER!!! Plus, they have professional quality
printing. I LOOOOOOVE WinkFlash, and I want them to stay in business, so give
them a try, you won't regret it (their site is very user friendly).
My only complaint is they don't have enough variety of designs for greeting cards,
but that will change as they become better known and appreciated.
Best of luck!
We've started using Smugmug.com, and are very pleased with them.
Although you need to pay for an account ($40/year) we think it is
worth it. The main advantages: You can upload high-resolution
images, with unlimited storage, so it acts as an off-site backup
(in case your computer dies); friends and family can print
directly from the site, or if they are computer savvy, they can
download your high-res images for their own collections; it
allows viewers to see a full-screen slideshow (with captions)
that looks smashing on a 24'' monitor; you have lots of control
over how to organize and view your photos, and who can see, print
or download them (you can even password protect your galleries,
if you want). Their more expensive packages are meant for
professional photographers, but even for the amateurs, it offers
much more than the free sites offer. http://www.smugmug.com/
You're not alone with this problem. I run a photolab and have
seen that people are taking more picture and yet are printing
less. Where do all those photos end up? Crammed into the corners
of multiple hard drives, flash cards and dvd's. I recommend EDPB
EDIT: Be ruthless about this and do it immeditely after
downloading your files.
DELETE: Delete the pics that are similar but not as good or the
pics that are just so-so.
PRINT: Get the best photos printed on paper. The home inkjet
systems are OK but when you add time and materials cost together
you'll find it's more expensive than getting them printed on
photo paper at a lab. I strongly suggest getting things printed
on Fuji or Kodak photo paper - they'll last 40-60 years. One
product I like for pictures of kids is www.CipherStrips.com It's
a littel business card sized folding photo album that holds 10 pics.
BACK-UP: Put your favorite photos onto cdr or dvd every couple of
months. Best idea is to burn two disks and keep one at a family
member's home just in case of fire or earthquake.
How do other people manage their digital photos? I have an imac
which comes with iphoto. My camera takes pictures at 5 mb,
which I like because I like to blow stuff up and I hate the
pixelly look of digital. However, my NEW computer can't handle
the number of pictures I have. I download them off the computer
into iphoto, then I have to burn a cd which I rarely have time
to do, I really haven't found a fast easy way to burn photo cds
with iphoto, printing from iphoto also seems challenging because
digital cameras don't take pictures in the 35 mm format, so I
have to crop them to print them, which I don't neccessarily want
to do. Help- does anyone have a system out there? I can't take
more pictures without burning more cd's to make room on the
computer, then I am perpetually behind.
Drowning in adorable pictures
I think you should look up the local Macintosh Group, where
volunteer members help other members. Then let me know what you
find because I also take a lot of photos, and I am getting a mac.
One thing that I do though is to take the chip from my camera to
Walgreens or Longs Drugs and put everything on the camera on a
CD right there for 3.99. That way I don't have to have all the
photos on my computer. I just have the ones that I work with,
and at the end of each week I do a back up on a disk at home,
and then delete the pictures from my computer
I also have an (older) iMac, iPhoto, and lots of digital photos. I
use an Olympus
camera, don't know if it downloads differently from yours. Here's
what I do:
iPhoto is great, but I don't use it for storing the photos. When I
photos from my camera, I manually copy them from the camera to the
-- When I plug the USB cable from the camera to the computer, it
mounts on the desktop like a CD would, and then I just drag the
contents into a
folder I made on the hard drive. The key is naming the folder, which
takes just a
few seconds. At the time I download the photos I put them in named
this, with year and month first:
2006 May 15 Alices birthday
2006 May 28 Hike at Tilden
2006 May photos
2006 May pics from Sharon
You can have all of these as subfolders withing a larger folder called
makes it easy to find things, easy to archive, easy to use with the
next new photo
program that comes along, and easy to copy onto CD - you just drag,
burn. Also, if you are looking at them in List view, the folders are
then (more or
less)already in chronological order because you named them with the
year first. I
don't always have time to rename individual photos. When you name
keep the names short, and avoid characters like ''/'' that are not
PCs. That way, no problems when you copy onto CD for someone else.
Another good reason for storing files this way is that you can also
save a document
or text file (MS Word, for example) in the same folder. You can
write notes about
the event, who was there, who is in the pictures, memories of the day.
Or in my
example above, ''Pics from Sharon'' maybe Sharon sent me an email with
photos. I can paste the email text into a document and save it
together with the
Note that if you also import the photo into iPhoto, you are making a
duplicate, so it
will take up twice as much space. I know there are probably some easy
manage things in iPhoto, but I'm not very experienced with it, so
mainly I use iPhoto
to make slideshows or as a digital picture frame with which to enjoy
Someday I'll take more time with it, but not now.
As the owner of an older Mac, I also have the problem of limited hard
My solution has been to purchase an external firewire hard drive.
They are plug-
and-play, and VERY easy to use. I have one made by Rocstor (which I
backup), and one made by LaCie (which I use for hard drive overflow
portability), and have also considered another good one from Maxtor.
purchase from those companies websites, or at various retailers.
Because your photos are precious, you will want to make sure that you
Making CDs is one way. Using an external hard drive to back up is
making my own personal backup, I always try to make an extra CD to
give away to a
friend or relative. Sharing photos is nice, but I also have a selfish
motive. If a
catastrophic event happens like my house burns down and I lose the
the backup and all my photos, I can at least ask my friends and
relatives for copies
of the CDs I gave them.
As for printing photos, I stick with the commercial services (yahoo
shutterfly, walgreens, costco and so many others). I think it is way
printing at home, the quality is good, and besides the ink for the
printer is just as
expensive, or possibly more expensive.
Good luck. I'm looking forward to reading the advice posted by
I got an external hard drive ($100) and I save there my photos
I too am drowning in digital photos and your post made me think of a
friend of mine
who works as a personal photo editor. She can help you edit down your
those photos that really tell a cohesive story. She helped me a lot
with my collection. I
had hundreds of photos that were so similar and I realized that I only
needed one or
two of the best ones but it was so hard for me to figure out which
those were. It was
great to have a second pair of eyes help me. She's an amazing
photographer and is an
excellent editor. She's also really easy to work with. Her name is Amy
Kubes and you
can reach her at kubes[at]birdhouse.org. Good luck!
What is the best way to back up digital photos? We have over
two years worth of photos we need to back up. Looking for some
technology that will be around for a long time and is not too
expensive and doesn't take up too much space. Thanks!
I back up my digital photos to DVD. It requires having a DVD burner,
but those are getting cheaper all the time. You can also back up to CD,
of course, but DVDs hold 4 to 5 times as much data, so it's a lot less
trouble. Although the current DVD format won't be around forever (high
definition formats are already in the works), they'll certainly be
around for at least
5 years, probably much longer. At some point, you might have to
transfer from the current DVD format to some new format. I don't know
of any technology for backing up digital material that's guaranteed to
be around forever, but if someone else has an idea, I'd be interested to
hear it. In the meantime, DVDs are a cheap and easy solution that
doesn't take a lot of space.
I put all of mine onto CDs. I hope that technology lasts a long time!
I upload all of my pictures to shutterfly. I figure now they are
''off-site'' in case there is a fire here. I have more than 1500 photos
there. I also just had them make archive disks of all my pictures, so I
have a backup in case they shut their doors. Those are going to go in my
safe deposit box. It cost $50 (I think) to archive up to 2000. It's less
for 1000 pix. It was time-consuming process to upload them, but once
that was done it was just a few mouse-clicks for the CDs. It costs
nothing to store them on their site. I've also used them for printing,
calendars, Xmas cards. The service is great and the quality can't be
I'd say you have a couple of reasons and needs in backup up digital
photos. One is to insure you don't loose them all when your computer
finally crashes for good, while another is to give you a longer-laster
archive. So I actually do multiple things.
I have an external USB hard drive that is easy to connect and copy file
onto (I actually back up my entire hard drive this way). It's great in
that you can stick it in a drawer or even out of your house to be a true
disaster policy, but it's bad in that you have to physically connect it
and make the copies (which I only do about twice a year). I also upload
all my photos to an on-line photo printing service. I do buy a few
prints from each batch, but I upload ALL of them so that in case of a
real disaster on my end, I know they will be there. While these
companies may not be there in 10 or 20 years, at least for the near
future they'll be there and you could of course upload to a couple
different companies. Best of all they have professionals keeping their
servers backed up and running and it's is free!
You can also do things like write CD's which is cheap if you have a CDR
drive, but those can easily get lost and broken too.
Anyway, I'd say use multiple methods to ensure that you really won't
lose your photos.
I would suggest that you back up to either CD or DVDs. The cost of both
drives and discs have come down considerably. The life expectancy of
CD/DVD media is somewhere between 20-100 years, but manufacturers don't
really know because they are arriving at these numbers using accelerated
aging techniques. They do know that the write-one media (CD-R and DVD-R)
is closer to the 100 years while the re-writable media(CD-RW and
DVD-RW)is closer to 20.
A big factor in CD versus DVD is is how much stuff you have in terms of
size. CDs have a limit of 650MB while DVDs store 4.7GB so if you use the
highest resolution on your camera and each picture is 2MB, then you can
get approx 325 pictures on a CD.
We switched from CDs to DVDs after we had accumulated 4 years worth of
Lastly you should think about what you are going to do with the back up.
Our home survived the oakland hills fire and ever since we have kept a
backup of our photos away from our house. We keep one copy with family
out of state and a copy in our safe deposit box. One piece of advice on
safe deposit boxes. The standard size safe deposit box is not big enough
to fit a regular size CD or DVD. I store photos on double sided
mini-DVDs which hold 2.8GB and fit in the safe deposit box.
I use Shutterfly to back up my photos. Shutterfly is a free on-line
service you can find at shutterfly.com. I upload all my photos to them
and then once a year or so, I order an archive CD. There are a few
advantages to this. I share photos on-line with friends and family and
then they can order whatever copes they want. I can make cards,
invitations and other projects on the service and they are speedily
mailed to me. If my computer is stolen or my house destroyed, the photos
will be preserved off-site. This actually happened to a friend of mine.
All her photos of their baby were on her laptop, which was stolen.
Thankfully she had them all on Shutterfly and so she could still recover
them. There is also another place called Picture Gallery, which is by
Kodak. Finally the yearly archive CD is a nice way to store all photos
in a small space.
Burn the pictures onto a CD or DVD disc. Although supposedly storing
things on discs doesn't last forever (one of the drawbacks of digital
photography), so you might want to save your pictures to more than one
location and type of storage.
For example, a bunch of online companies (like Yahoo) offer a certain
amount of free storage. You could park your pictures there as a back-up
to what you save on your hard drive or disc.
I have heard horror stories about archiving digital photos online; one
person lost years of family digital photos because of some e-mail
address mixup when she changed jobs. She wasn't notified that a payment
was due, and the online storage company deleted all of her family's
photos. She had no way of getting the photos back and of course no
legal recourse: any halfway- decent EULA strips you of all rights
whatsoever. If you don't care too much what happens to the photos, I
suppose it might be cheaper. However, if the photos are important, you
are putting a lot of trust into an amorphous Internet entity over which
you have no control and against which you will have no recourse (except
perhaps some sort of refund,and even that's doubtful).
Attention digital camera buffs! I have just purchased a Minolta
Dimage and have uploaded the shots to my computer, but what is
the best way to print? Do you recommend buying a printer and
special paper? (Isn't the paper expensive?) Or do you
recommend using a service like ofoto.com or imagemaker.com?
Isn't it likely that these services will start charging to store
photos? What do you recommend?
I use both Ofoto and Shutterfly and they are very similar.
There rates are almost identical- about $.50 per photo. It
seems like alot, but if you print only the good ones, it ends
up, for me, being about $3-4 per set of photos. The quality of
both are VERY good. They both do digital ( upload the photos
from your computer, and then they are on the web) or you can
mail in regular film for development. Shutterfly pre-charges
you for development - you pay $4 and they send you a mailer.
Ofoto sends you the mailer, and then tells you when the
pictures are developed, and you pay $4 to see them. Ofoto, it
appears, is a part of Kodak. The prints that I have gotten have
seemed slightly better from Ofoto, but that could also be the
fault of the photographer (me). While they both allow you to
make great looking cards, Shutterfly offers more extensive
services, which I think look like great ideas - calendars,
scrapbooks, etc. Shutterfly seems to offer more 'sales' too
(August sale 20% off stuff). I know ofoto will keep all
pictures for a year after ANYONE makes a purchase from one of
your albums. THere doesn't seem to be a space limit. Uploading
has been much faster through Shutterfly than Ofoto, but both
have their limitations. All in all, I think they are both
great, and a great way to preserve memories. For a quick and
dirty picture, that may not last as long, but is simply used to
decorate your cubicle for a short while, then almost any of the
printers out there are good. But for photo quality, I'd go with
either Ofoto or Shutterfly.
Love the web!
I love Shutterfly.com! Their turn around on orders is super
fast and the prices are quite reasonable. I doubt they will
eventually charge for storage unless one exceeds a certain
limit. But you can just store the pictures on a CD Rom anyway
and not have to rely on theirs as the only storage. (I wouldn't
do that anyway in case they ever go out of business.)
We use shutterfly.com and love it. They print your pictures
with the cute little white borders of yesteryear photos. Price
is good- cheaper than at the store when you think that every
picture is a good one and you aren't paying for all the closed
eyed, blurry ones.
Careful, on printing them yourself they may not last. The inks
in a regular printer may fade over time.
We just got a digital camera and it is very fun but now I want to print
them and am baffled. Is buying a printer the way to go or is it better to
just burn cds and take them somewhere to get printed? I can't upload to
shutterfly or some other service because my dial-up connection is too
slow. What tips do you have? thanks
I wouldn't advice against buying a high quality ink jet printer
plus photo paper for those instantly must have photos (let's
you need a photo for a greeting card now), but definitely burn
the bulk on CD rom and take them to be printed - the quality is
much better (especially on skin colour and texture) and it is
cheaper as well (printer ink and photo paper are very expensive).
Enjoy your camera!
I have a printer and LOVE it. Here's what I do: I pick out my
favorite digital photos after I have downloaded them onto my
computer from my camera. I then import them into the software
program Powerpoint (Word would work, too; in either case, it's a
one-click maneuver). There, I can easily crop them, resize
them, brighten them, etc. I put about 3 to 4 on a page. Then I
put in text captions for the photos and the date. I can then
print out the entire page on photo paper on my printer for my
photo album and e-mail them to family. Voila, instant annotated
photo album. No cutting necessary, no copies of photos you
don't like, no clutter in the background (assuming you can crop
it out).... my family loves it, too. And I don't think it takes
much more time than driving to the photo store, remembering to
go back to the store, picking the prints up, etc. And you get
to select what size, what cropping, etc., you want. I can also
print out blocks of photos in standard print sizes by creating a
powerpoint file also, printing that out, and then cutting them
from the 8X11 photo sheet. Sometimes it is hard to keep up, but
I hear that is true with regular prints from the store, getting
reprints for relatives, etc., etc.
I print most of my own digital photos and while I have been able
to get them to look very good, they are not as good as getting
them printed professionally. If you want them to look like real
photos I think you have to get them printed somewhere. This is
what I've found to work best for getting good photos from the
printer: you need a good color printer, quality photo paper and
set your print properties to print quality best and ink volume
midway between dark and light. Either way it's pretty expensive
but probably less expensive than film. The nice thing about it
is you only print the good ones.
buy an Epson printer for about $150 at Costco. The print quality
is awesome and you can make any size you want, any time, w/o
having to drive anywhere. We've printed literally hundreds
(probably thousands) of photos in 2 years and it keeps printing
beautifully. It's rated as a business printer, designed for
thousands and thousands of prints a week.
You might try ofoto.com. I haven't tried it yet but I hear it's
great -- easy to use and good print quality. I bought a $200
photo printer and never use it anymore. The quality is not too
good and it's time consuming to use. Also the cost of the ink
and paper is expensive.
Just keep in mind that unless you buy archival inks and archival
paper, your pics will not last the way a real photo will b/c of
the acids in the paper and ink. So for treasured pics, make
sure to keep your digital files to make more prints down the
road or have them professionally printed. There is actually
some doubt among photographers if the Epson archival inks really
are that archival.
My father-in-law is a photographer, and he spends several hours per week
playing with my son. So every month I end up with pictures of my son, of
which usually 3 or 4 are ones I would like to display somehow. The problem is
that we're already up to our ears in albums and framed pictures, so the packets
of photos are just being filed in boxes -- such a waste! Does anyone out there
have creative ideas for displaying numerous photos that don't include albums,
frames, or the refrigerator? It would be even better if it were something my
son could look at and handle with his sticky fingers without ruining anything.
You might try the Exposures company (website is
www.exposuresonline.com). They are all about creative displays
of photos, including beautiful frames that can be arrayed on a
wall, narrow shelves for displaying photos and creative things
like wooden screens/room dividers with slots for many
pictures. They often have very good sales and certain dates
when everything you order is 25% off.
You could turn the photos into placemats by pasting them
on large pieces of thick paper and laminating them.
You could hang a wire against the wall and clip photos to it--
like a clothes line, but with photos.
Hang a length of yarn, string, ribbon or wire on the wall,
attached at each end so it is parallel to the floor. Hang
photos from it with clothespins or paper clips (decorative clips
are nice, but plain ones work just fine). You can put the
photos in plastic sleeves (available at places that sell
scrapbooking supplies) if you want to protect them from sticky
This method allows for much easier rearrangement than a
collection of frames, and your son can move and change the
photos to his heart's content if you hang them within his
reach. You can use multiple parallel rows of string if you've
got a tall wall space, or one long row if that fits better. You
can mix in your son's artwork, too.
I'd keep the boxes or albums as a chronological record and use
duplicates for display, but if you'd rather you can just put the
older photos in a box when they are replaced in the display by
I've seen some great ideas in a catalogue (and online) from
Exposures (www.exposuresonline.com). They have what they call
hanging display panels - clear plastic sleeves that fit 4x6
photos in long row - either 15 horizontally or 14 vertically.
I've also seen similar plastic sheets in rectangular shape with
grommets at the top for hanging (not sure where to get those).
Either solution is reasonably priced, kid-friendly, and easy to
One Step Ahead sells a wall hanging display that holds up to 40
photos (for about $10). You can find it at www.onestepahead.com
by searching for ''picture pockets'' or ''photos''.
I have some ideas for your photos that your son could put
his ''sticky fingers'' on:
Use the photos to illustrate books that you write about your
son. You can use other books for story lines. You can either
laminate the pages or put them in binders with plastic page
You could blow the photos up and cut them up with each piece
focusing on a particular body part. Laminate the individual
pieces or affix them to some sort of board in the same shape.
You will end up with a puzzle that you can use to teach your son
the names of his body parts.
Two ideas come to mind. One would be to laminate the pictures, either
attached to a piece of paper, or just the pictures themselves. This could
be made into a simple little book by punching holes in the corners and
putting the photos on a ring (get it at an office supply store). We've
this for my son with pictures of his extended family, whom he gets to see
very seldom, and the ''sticky fingers'' comment brought it to mind.
The other is a method we've used in my son's room for his artwork (he
brings new paintings home a couple of times a week from daycare):
We've strung a line (attached to hooks, cleats, or even just nails) fairly
tightly across one wall, and have been attaching the paintings with
clothespins. Perhaps you could do something like this, on a smaller
scale, using miniature clothespins and picture wire. Allows for frequent
changing of displays with minimal effort.
If you want something your child can play with, I've had photos
laminated. You can just wipe them off if they get dirty and they
won't bend or tear. You can punch holes in the plastic and
wire several photos together, or use a key chain.
I have two thoughts, neither of which count as creative. First, have your
develop his film through an on-line photo service like Shutterfly. That
you will only pay to print the photos you actually want to use, and won't
have full envelopes of photos and duplicates that you don't like enough to
display or put in albums. Second, I like those little dinky 4x6 floppy
albums they sell at the drug store for a dollar or so. I put pictures in
stick the date on the front, and then I don't worry about the kids flipping
through them. I've been doing them for 5 years, and my kids love looking
through the boxes of old baby pictures.
I have many old family photos from both my and my husband's
families, some in those awful magentic photo albums, some loose
in boxes and envelopes. I'd like to organize them and put them
in new, archival albums but I'm not sure the best method. I use
scrapbooks for recent photos, but I don't want to use those
sticky photo tabs on these photos, since many have interesting
things written on the backs and we may want to take them out
later to copy them. Photo corners don't seem right either, since
many of the photos are old and brittle, and others are the heavy
antique kind. I know the magnetic pages are bad and regular
slotted photo albums won't work, given that the photos are all
different sizes. So what's the solution? Any scrapbooking
experts out there? I didn't see anything about this in the
archives or in the recent discussion about dividing family
To answer all you questions in writing would take more time
than I have, I'm afraid, but I would be glad to answer by
phone. Also, I'd recommend getting a Light Impressions
catalogue by calling (800) 828-6216 or going to their web
site www.lightimpressionsdirect.com. I am not associated
with them---it's just that they are a wealth of information and
archival supplies. (I am an artist but not an archivalist.)
A company called Your Family Legacy has a website with lots of
info. about this. http://www.webYFL.com Of course they will
try to sell you supplies, some of which you don't really need!
The Website of the American Institute for Conservation has some
very useful information on this subject. See
and in particular
And be sure to see the US National Archives & Records
Use a scrapbook type album with stick-on plastic sleeves! An
odd-size photo will always fit into a sleeve that's larger, so
use an assortment of the current standard sizes (you can cut
them to fit better, if you like -- for example, cut one edge off
of a 3.5x5 sleeve and you've got a good size for old Polaroids)
and fit them in any arrangement on a page. You can get the
sleeves in the same places that sell corners and similar
Also, you can go ahead and use archival quality stickum if you
simply copy any writing on the backs of the photos to a
The first rule of archival preservation is ''don't do anything
that can't be undone later'' - in other words, don't permanently
change the item you want to save. This rules out any kind of
direct adhesive, no matter how ''archivally safe'' it claims to be.
Not only do adhesives violate the first rule, almost all will
fail after some decades pass. As you know, those ''magnetic''
albums are about the worst offenders: over time they permanently
glue the items in place, and often the glue transfers acid
discoloration in streaks to your pictures.
To put my old family pictures in albums I am using two archivally
sound methods. Neither allows seeing the back of the photo, but
if you search on the supplier's website I mention below you can
find some pocket type pages that would allow this.
1- Photo corners, and then the whole page goes into a clear
plastic sleeve. Since the adhesive is on the album page and not
the photo it is acceptable, but as I expect the adhesive to
eventually fail I'm hoping the plastic sleeves will at least keep
the photos from being lost. I burnish the corner onto the page
before slipping the picture in so they'll stick on longer I hope.
2- Heavier weight album pages in which I cut slits with a utility
knife, two slits per corner, and slip the corner through. This
takes more time, but should last longer.
For both methods all my supplies are acid free, archivally sound
paper and plastics. I use Light Impressions
(www.lightimpressionsdirect.com) as my source, which is an
accepted supplier of archival supplies to museums and archives,
but I think there are a few others.
My 72 year old father recently mailed me 8 large albums of photos from
my childhood, baby pictures onward, that my mother (now deceased)
kept. I have a sister on the East Coast - we manage to see each other about
once a year so it would be wrong to just keep all these myself; they mean a
lot to her, too. I have the feeling it would be too expensive to have each
and every photo copied (I know there are places that will copy from prints),
but I don't know what else to do. Another problem is that the albums are the
kind with magnetic pages and after 40 years, the photos are practically
glued into place. Any ideas on how to handle this project would be
appreciated. My sister and I getalong pretty well so we can probably handle
some form of compromise,
but dividing up photos is hard -- each is unique! I would also welcome
suggestions of good places to handle copying.
If you are having trouble getting photos out of a magnetic album one
thing you can do is use dental floss to ''saw'' them out. You can also use
a tool that is similar to an orange stick (used for manicuring nails).
It's so important to get them out of the album. The poly-vinyl chloride
in the clear plastic will continue to yellow your photos as long as they
are in the album. They are emitting chlorine gas right onto your photos.
And the adhesives are just not meant for photos. They, too, can
accelerate the deterioration of your photos. Longs and Walgreens have a
service where you can make excellent copies of your photos and
frequently they have a buy one get one free offer. If you simply make
color copies at the copy shop you will have a product that will not last
because regular paper has acid and lignan in it. Acid causes paper to
eventually crumble and fall apart and lignan is the wood pulp in paper
that causes it to yellow. If you are spending so much time and care on
your project keep in mind how long you want it to be around, long enough
for your children and their children to enjoy. Definitly contact someone
(some sort of archiver?) about how to get them out. One thought that I had,
too, is that having them copied- while expensive, will give the photos a new
lease on life. My dad is a photographer, and one of his projects for a photo
class was to
set up all of you old family pics up, put his mid-grade camera (nothing
special, just pentax- not point and shoot) on a tri-pod and took picures of
the pictues. It turned out MUCH better than some of the phot copiers that
you see at the store. Lastly, in my family, we divided up the pics this way-
I got all the pics of me, my sister got the ones of her. If I wanted a
certain pic of her, if she wanted it- I paid for a copy, or she just gave it
to me.... Other pics it
was easy enough to divide them fairly.
I would consider doing color photocopies for the photos you both want but
don't intend to frame. This way you can do a bunch at once, and I think each
photocopy is about $1 or so (I could be wrong on that price, though). Even
the ones in the 'stuck' pages can be copied that way. The photocopies will
probably fade over time, but you will at least each have a copy, even if it
just lives in a photo album for most of the time. Spend the extra money to
get 'real' reproductions done if you want to frame them. Another suggestion
may be to scan them and print the photos on photographic paper. This has
some draw backs because you may not have the time or equipment to get this
done in an orderly fashion. Also, if there are a lot, it might take up a lot
of 'room' on your computer. AND the price could really add up. One final
(unsolicited!) suggestion is that these photos may make a PERFECT
gift. A friend of mine recently did this for her sister's 30th birthday --
she went through the family photos and made a photo essay of their life
growing up. It was a most appreciated mark of the sister's special day!
What I did with my old family photos was buy an inexpensive scanning
(at the time $125 - now probably $25) and got to work scanning in the
photos. It took quite a while, so I just made a plan to scan for about an
hour a day for a week or two. I then burned them on to CD Roms and gave
out as Christmas gifts. Many printers today can do photo quality prints and
Ritz camera will also print out even nicer photo quality prints for a
reasonable price. By the way, the scanner will probably be able to scan
quite nicely right through the plastic on the magnetic pages so you don't
have to worry about removing them.
Why not scan the photos in and create either a electronic scrapbook (there
are many companies on the Web that provide this service) or use a software
(like Adobe Premiere) to create an electronic slide show that you can write
to a DVD or dump to a VHS tape? Photos (especially old ones) will only
continue to degrade and scanning them will mean that your kids, grandkids,
and so on will be able to enjoy these photos in the future. Last summer my
sister and I archived my grandmother's photos and created a ''movie'' with
music that was shown at her memorial service. We probably compiled a
similar amount of photos plus video clips - because we were novices it was
ALOT of work (100 hours between the two of us?) but the end product was well
worth it. Plus it will never degrade and it can be copied to all of our
family members with very little effort. We liked Premiere but there are
undoubtably a number of packages out there and a little research on what
would best suit your needs is probably time well spent. Our only regret is
that we weren't able to do the movie for my grandmother to enjoy (she had
suffered from Alzheimer's for a number of years). However the movie was a
wonderful way for the family to remember how she was for most of her life.
We are now putting something similar together for my parents (they have
their 40th anniversary this year), so the whole family can enjoy it
In our family, we took the albums to Kinko's and had them color photocopied.
This is much cheaper than reprinting from negatives. It is possible to then
bind the copies and make duplicate albums. Good luck finding a solution.
I have a great suggestion for you. Forget making a copy of the pictures or
scanning them in. Don't even disturb the pictures. You can buy or borrow a
nice digital camera and take a photo of each picture using the macro
function and upload the digital pictures to www.ofoto.com and put them in a
digital album. Be sure to take the picture outside with lots of natural
light for best result. You can share the album with your sister and she can
order the prints that she want. Signing up with Ofoto is free. I would
recomend a nice digital camera that is at least 3.3 megapixel, such as the
My East-coast sister and I have recently experienced the exact same problem
(Dad is moving), and we've found a high-tech solution that helps at least a
little bit. If you have access to a computer with CD burner and a scanner
(good scanners can be bought for around $50 these days), you can scan the
photos and make CD albums that can be copied for the whole family (and, if
you like, you can incorporate text that includes family stories, or even
some digital video.) I realize there's no replacement for the actual print
if you were hoping to frame and display them, but for ''album'' pictures
it's a decent alternative to paying to have them all copied--the CD picture
quality is quite good, they should last for years and years, they're
infinitely reproducible, and the ''albums'' don't take up much space.
I can imagine how glued in those photos might be after who knows how many
years in them! Have you considered sharing the albums with your sister?
Since you see her yearly, you could have 4 albums and she could have the
other 4, then yearly trade your sets so each sister has a chance to enjoy
all the photos. They are both of yours, of course, and this way you both
have a chance to have them and relish them without damaging the photos.
a thought. You know best if this would work for you and your sister.
My grandmother recently had all of her daughters and granddaughters go
through her jewelry box and tell her which items we would like to have one
day -- as she put it, ''I don't want to give you something you don't like
and which Kate coveted.'' I think it would be best if you employed the same
theory with your sister and the photos. Bring along all the albums for your
next visit and plan to spend a few hours going through them together.
You'll probably be surprised -- you will find some that really speak to you,
and she will have others which are on her ''must have'' list. Of course,
there will be some you both love -- *those* will be the ones you copy. I
think this system is much better than just copying them all, as that would
be very expensive. As for the issue of the magnetic pages, I can't offer
any real solid advice -- but talk to the folks at Looking Glass Photo on
Telegraph. They are a professional photo lab and although this question is
not probably a little out of the ordinary for them, they will likely have
some sound advice for you. I have found the staff there very helpful.
One possibility is scanning the photos and printing them out on photo
quality paper (either yourself or through a camera store or online service
like Snapfish). This could take a very long time, however, for lots of
photos. I think that I would just color xerox them on good quality paper,
and then divide them up (each of you taking half of the copies and half of
the original prints). I have done this in the past, and been very happy with
the quality (and it isn't too expensive because you can fit several photos
on one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet).The magnetic pages are awful; I have removed photos
by using a thin metal implement, like a letter-opener, behind the photo. In
many cases I lost the back of the photo, but figured it was better to get it
away from the destructive chemicals in the pages.
I am in the process of designing a photo album for my daughter. I do not
have a good idea on how to organize the huge number of negatives for easy
reprints and future uses. Any suggestions? Lijing
to organize negatives...
glue a manila envelope on the back page of the album and keep the negatives
for THAT album in it. Of course I'm 3 yrs behind on my albums, but in
principle it works well!
Also, Seattle FilmWorks (and maybe other places too) will print (for $1) a
mini-proof sheet for each roll that helps you remember which negative goes
with which picture.
Regarding photo albums and organizing negatives, I buy those handy
storage boxes that you can find at Ross or Stacks and after I've put the
pictures in the albums, I store any extra pictures with their negatives
in the boxes. I label them carefully (for example, X-mas '98) and keep
them in chronological order. The boxes come with a little tag on the
outside so that you can write down the contents. The boxes cost a bit,
but I think the money is worth it. Good luck!
You can buy plastic sheets with pockets for negative strips- each page
will hold enough negatives for around 36 prints. (Century Plastics, a
mail order company, has them and you can usually buy them in photography
stores as well.) Once you have the sheets, just put each roll in order in
a sheet and label the sheet. Then it's easy to find the right roll and
negative (hold the whole sheet up to the light). I have given each roll
of film a consecutive number which I label both the prints (or envelope/
album page holding them- some albums have index pages) and negatives with.
Good luck! The hard part is keeping ahead of it- I'm already a year
behind and my son is only 16 mos. old!!
In reply to your inquiry...
I am a Creative Memories Consultant...I teach workshops and Home Classes on
layout ideas, journaling ideas, and photo preservation principles, in the
making of scrapbooks. You may get some good ideas from one of my
classes...please email me if you are interested in my schedule. (A first
class is $15 with on-going workshops to complete your album every week, and
extended workshops every month.)
Hope to hear from you. Good for you for making an album for your daughter.
What a precious gift to make for a child.
for many years i have kept all photo negatives in a safe deposit box at the
bank. after having a house fire and friends whose house burned to the
ground, the comment made most often was i lost my baby pictures and family
pictures which i can not replace. it seems like a small amount to pay for
the knowledge that if something should happen that i could alway have the
negatives reprinted. i put the dates on the packages so i can check them
out quickly if i need a reprint. the safe deposit box is kept dark and
cooler than my shelf in a closet or cupboard.
You can purchase full page negative sleeves at a photo supply store, like
Looking Glass photographic Arts on Telegraph and Oregon. These work great,
are easy to see the negatives and are great for storage.
For emergeny reasons I keep all of my negatives together in one
container, that I can just grab and run out the door with. This container is
kept in an easy accessible storage space close to the front door. I have
kept the negatives for each roll in the envelope they came in and labeled
the outside, so I know what's in it. Where it makes sense, I'd group a
few rolls together under a theme (vacation in...). This way I can easily
locate negatives for reprints. The search might be 3 minutes longer than
having all negatives organized in individual storage sheets, but I don't
have to spend so much time in advance organizing everything for the
few times I really need to look up something. So, the only prep work to
do is to label the envelope and deposit it into the container. I have been
photographing a lot over the past 15 years and I've always been able to
find any negative I was looking for within 10 minutes. Good luck!
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