Preserving digitized photographs

My father, a photographer, put a camera in my hands at a very early age. I have taken hundreds, often thousands, of pictures a year for most of my life. And, as a result, I have boxes and boxes of print photographs taking up space in my closet.

One of my goals for 2009 is to have all of my old photographs scanned so that I can have digital copies of these pictures. We’ve talked previously about services that will scan your photographs (in addition to ScanMyPhotos, commenters also recommend ScanCafe and LifePreserver), and having my photos scanned is the first item on my to-do list for this project.

While I’m trying to decide which scanning service to use, I’m also deciding what to do with the photographs once they’re scanned. First up, I’ll be sure to backup the images; I’ll put copies of the digital image DVDs in my safety deposit box at the bank and I’ll upload the image files to my online storage system. I value these images enough to pay to have them scanned, so I should also pay to have them protected from fire and natural disaster.

I will want to organize the digital image files on my computer, but I haven’t yet decided which program to use. I currently use iPhoto, but with a hundred thousand more photographs, it will be overloaded. With the new version coming out in a couple weeks, I’m going to wait to see if it’s more capable and robust. If it won’t meet my needs, I’m considering the iPhoto Library Manager by Fat Cat Software for $20 as one option for improving my current system’s functionality. But, I expect I’m going to spend the $200 to buy Aperture 2 and revel in its powerful system. (If you’re on a PC, I hear that Google’s Picasa continues to be the most convenient photo manager.)

Finally, I plan to use Blurb to create a handful of albums that I want to store on the bookshelf for guests to peruse. I used Blurb in December to create four photo albums and was very impressed with their service. I’ve used the Apple system in the past, but the quality of the Blurb book is leaps and bounds ahead of Apple’s product.

The books I ordered from Blurb were hardcovers with glossy jackets, full color interior, and 100-pound silk-finish paper. With shipping, I paid less than $150 total for the four albums. It may sound like a lot, but their quality appropriately matches the price. Alternatively, if you decided to go with a paperback cover, no book jacket, and non-premium paper would significantly reduce the price per album.

(Off-topic tip: I’ve often thought that digital photo albums would be great for sentimental clutter photographs. Take images of sentimental items, ditch the actual item, and then create a photo album of all your sentimental things. Instead of a basement full of clutter, you can have a single book on your bookshelf taking up just inches of space.)

I will add that I do have one complaint about Blurb and that is if you use their templates you can’t move any elements around on the page or resize any objects. This isn’t an issue just with Blurb, though, a handful of other album printing companies have the same restrictions. You can import full pages from programs like InDesign (Mac and PC), but then you’re not able to use the templates. Inside sources have told me that there are some improvements coming down the pipeline, and I hope altering templates is one of them.

For those of you who have already gone through the process of scanning all of your old photographs, what have you done to manage the files? Please let us know your plan of action in the comments.

62 Comments for “Preserving digitized photographs”

  1. posted by Ann on

    There is now Picasa for the Mac as well — I highly recommend it whether you are on a PC or a Mac.

  2. posted by Christina on

    I must admit, the thought of digitally preserving my old photos is an overwhelming task, so I don’t have any tips for you on that.

    But as far as organizing the digital photos, I highly recommend ACDSee Photo Manager… it is a program that a lot of digital scrapbookers (like me!) use to organize their digital papers, elements, etc, and it works fabulously for photos.

  3. posted by Greg on

    I keep copies of all photos, scanned or otherwise, on my Flickr Pro account as well as on DVD.

    By the way, Picasa is also available for Linux.

  4. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Greg — Have you used Picasa on Linux? Do you like it? I would love to be able to recommend more Linux products.

  5. posted by Anne on

    I have used ScanCafe for some old slides and was pleased with the results. It did take a while ~ 2 months, but the quality was what I was looking for. Now, I’m debating about what to do about my negatives since there are about 10,000 and everything from 35mm to 4×5.

    I use Aperture 2 for my photo organization. It is a big step up from iPhoto if you have many images that you want organized and kept in a good structure. There are several advantages to it over iPhoto. First, for scanned images, you can adjust the date on them, so they reflect the original negative date instead of the scanned date.

    Second, the Aperture 2 books allow total flexibility. You can make the page any way you want.

    Third, if you make an adjustment in iPhoto, it makes a duplicate image (in order to preserve the original). This can eat up a lot of disk space. Aperture 2 just writes additional data with your changes. It preserves the original, but gives you the changes with a lot less space taken.

    I would not go back to iPhoto after having Aperture 2, but I would consider looking at Lightroom to see if it’s a little more stable. I’ve had issues intermittently with Aperture 2 being slow and a few varied problems, but for organization purposes, it is excellent.

  6. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Anne — What an excellent review! Thank you!!

  7. posted by Greg on

    @Erin -Yep, I use Picasa on Ubuntu without a hitch.

  8. posted by Ken Duncan on

    Erin,
    Interesting that you mentioned saving pictures in your blog today. I wrote about just that thing for my blog over on wordpress (www.margiesmanna.wordpress.com) over the weekend. By the way keep up the good work I love your posts!

  9. posted by sharon on

    I have used iPhoto and iPhoto Library Manager. Now I use Lightroom and LOVE it! The keywording is great and it doesn’t keep tons of copies of your photos like iPhoto does. Try it out before you buy anything else.

    I did miss the ease of use of iPhoto with the rest of the mac apps, but Lightroom works so much better with adobe apps. And making a page or slideshow to upload to your .mac website is pretty easy.

  10. posted by Evan on

    You could also try Tags (http://gravityapps.com/tags/overview/); it adds tags to Spotlight metadata, so all of the relevant info stays with the file, no matter where you put it. It’s supposed to be fully searchable via Spotlight (using tags:yourtaghere, for example), though it hasn’t actually worked that way for me. I prefer it because it lets me use the finder as a browser instead of loading up an iPhoto library.

    Good luck archiving!

  11. posted by Chiggins on

    I love iPhoto, it met my needs until my hard drive became full. I purchased Aperture at the suggestion of Apple staff, it seemed difficult to me. Just last week I switched to LightRoom, It’s much easier. I am not an expert. Aperture is very functional and I can see why people like it, but my suggestion would be LightRoom..

  12. posted by timgray on

    I never scan photos unless I cant get my hands on the negatives. I always try to scan the negatives first as you always get a better image from them. In the case of really old plates or other photos that you cant get the negatives then I’ll scan them. BUT, most of the services out there will do a horrible job. If I take the time to scan each one (doing only 10 photos a night) all of a sudden I have those 3000 photos scanned and know they are all as good as they can be. I have given up on services as they simply run them through a bulk machine, very few are properly aligned, color off, resolution much lower than my AGFA can give me.

    The scanning services are great for photos you dont care if they are perfect. but not for preserving the old photos of my parents and grandparents.

    The hard part is preserving the digital images. I bought archival quality dual layer DVD-R disks but still make 4 copies of each disk. and I dont trust the longevity of them. in 40 years they will not be readable because DVD-R drives will not exist…. when was the last time you saw an 8″ floppy drive. or will they have the ability to read my RAW files and jpeg files in 40 years? when was the last time you were able to open a .8pbs or .adc image file?

    digital storage has greater challenges, compatibility wit h the future..

  13. posted by J.P. on

    One note about custom layouts with Blurb:
    It’s a bit of a hack, but you can customize your layout by creating your layout in the program of your choice then exporting each page as a jpg. Then, by using the full-page image template you can drop in your exported layouts. Less than ideal, but an option for the control freak in you (not that anyone here has one of those).

  14. posted by Jen on

    I took most of my photos to a local camera store to have them scanned. I’m not brave enough to mail them off somewhere. Mailing them to one of the companies you mention would have saved me a little bit of money, but I wasn’t ready to take that risk. So local it was. Now they’re all scanned, on a CD, my laptop, and external backup drive. I haven’t organized them yet. That’s a task I’m putting off. At least I got rid of the photo albums. I think I’ll orgnize them in folders on my computer. Probably won’t upload them anywhere though, but we’ll see.

    A question…what do you do with the original photos? Do you throw them away? I have them in 2 shoebox sized rubbermaid containers now instead of bulky albums, but havne’t been able to bring myself to toss them yet, even though I never look at them.

  15. posted by Bea on

    Hi Erin,
    I know your question was about sorting digitized photos, but I wanted to add a comment about scanning negatives.

    I used Life Preserver to scan a batch of negatives and I thought they did a superb job. However, even though their prices are reasonable, they aren’t cheap. I also couldn’t afford my own negative scanner, and I couldn’t justify the price because I now own a digital camera so I had a finite number of negatives to scan, making the equipment useless clutter to me once I was done.

    An alternative is to see if a friend will lend you a negative scanner or let you come over to their house for a few hours every so often to use their scanner. I was incredibly fortunate to have a friend lend me their negative scanner. He was happy because he had finished using it and he wished it could get more use because it was expensive. I was happy because I could save on my project and get the scanner out of my house once I was done. It was win-win situation.

    If you don’t have a friend with a scanner, I think some companies also let you rent negative scanners. Yes, it takes time to do the project, but if money is getting in the way of your desire to accomplish the project, this is a great alternative.

  16. posted by Trish on

    Can’t decide between Shutterfly and Blurb for photo books- I have read all over the net and it almost seems like a PC/MAC argument. Has anyone (prefer someone picky about color and contrast, etc. but not professional because I can’t afford those standards) tried both and can intelligently compare?

  17. posted by Doug Ransom on

    I doubt IPhoto will be overloaded – if so create a few different databases. IPhoto 09 will be a real help with that many photos (face recognition to help identify subjects etc).

    Also don’t be afraid of using jpeg2000 on scans. And in addition to a backup, and offsite backup, consider flickr.

  18. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Jen — Have a party, invite over your family and friends, and let them go through your printed pictures and take ones they want. At the end of the party, dispose of whatever is left.

  19. posted by Laura on

    Try Storybook Creator Plus (Creative Memories). It’s a digital scrapbooking program for a reasonable price ($~60) that can do everything you are asking for. Have fun!

  20. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Doug — The verdict will be out on the new iPhoto until its release. I like the face recognition promised in the new version … so time will tell. I’m skeptical, though, as the current version cannot come close to managing close to a million photographs.

  21. posted by Kris on

    I haven’t used Shutterfly, but I can say that Blurb’s quality is far and way better than KodakGallery’s books. I’ve made 3 Blurb books now and the quality really is outstanding. I was annoyed with the restrictions on layouts, but it worked well enough for my purposes. My main issue was that I created a 60 page large-format book with around 220 photos in it and didn’t really want to down-save each one to the size I was using it, so it took up a lot of memory by the time I was done.

  22. posted by Tabitha (From Single to Married) on

    Sounds just like my goals! Having gotten a scanner for Christmas, I’ve been busy downloading hundreds of pictures. Now where I’m going to store them, I’m not sure. I used to use iPhoto but found out that they have a limit of around 100 GB and then it starts slowing down. (Yes, I really do have that many pictures.) So I moved them all to the hard drive which makes it easier to open in Photoshop or Aperture or whichever software I want to use.

    ps – definitely like the Blurb books. They’re the best that I’ve tried – good quality and reasonable price.

  23. posted by Kristen on

    My Publisher is a great program I found to make digital albums. It is very user-friendly and gives many options for style of books and layouts. I made a book of some of my favorite wedding pictures and I was very happy. They are reasonably priced and they will email you offers all the time like buy one book, get one free or $10 off, etc. It’s definitely something to look into.

  24. posted by Nick on

    Be careful with CD-R/DVD-R-type media for your backups. We’ve found that burnt discs aren’t reliable after a few years. So either make a new burn every couple years or use some other backup method.

  25. posted by OogieM on

    I’m scanning thousands of old negatives and slides as well. I take on average 4000 pictures a year so there is a huge backlog. New photos are all digital. I only scan photos when I can’t find the negative. I bought a copy of the book Digital Imaging A Practical Approach by Jill Marie Koelling $25.95. It’s focused on historical photos but is equally applicable to personal shots. In particular her details on how to get the best possible archive quality scan are most important. No service can come close to the quality of a good archive scan done by the person who cares. The cost of a good scanner and the SW is minimal compared to the cost of sending negatives out. It will take a long time though.

    For the best archival format I am scanning to TIFF files, other lossless formats would also be good. Be sure to use high enough resolution and have a plan to move the files to other storage media and formats as technology changes. (Does anyone still have a drive that can read Iomega cartridges or 8 inch floppy drives?) I figure that on average I’ll need to move the collection to a new system every 5 years or so. Also even archival quality CDs and DVDs are not permanent. We have some with a worm-like corrosion in between the layers that are now unreadable so be sure to have a plan for checking the readability of your data at least once a year.

    The slides that I want to go into scrapbook albums are being printed out, the original pictures also get put into albums. I use Creative Memories scrapbook tools, albums and papers for my traditional scrapbooks and also use their photo book service for the digitally made ones because it’s more flexible than Shutterfly, Blurb and similar places.

    For cataloging I am looking into open source museum cataloging programs like Fedora, Archivist’s Toolkit and Greenstone Museum because I want to have a more portable final product compared to the proprietary systems out there and the limits of even Aperture or Lightroom are a consideration. No decision on which cataloging SW to use yet, for now I file things in folders by date and grouped by year.

  26. posted by Matt on

    Luckily I was anal and kept the photos in their paper wallets, complete with their negatives, and the photos were numbered on the back! Once scanned, if I had the negatives, I threw away the prints, reducing the bulk of my photos.
    Tools used: Ubuntu, GIMP, XSane, jUploadr
    Here’s my blog describing what I did in more detail:
    http://petty.me.uk/wordpress/?p=304
    http://petty.me.uk/wordpress/?p=313

  27. posted by Mitch Goldstone on

    Thanks Erin –

    Thought you’d like to know just how impactful your posting was and how well read Unclutterer is.

    Since your update on photo scanning, our 24/7 Live Support help desk is lined up with questions about how to affordably ($49.95 to scan up to 1,000 pix, or $124.95 for our fill-the-prepaid box service) and quickly (same day) scan your precious photo memories.

    We recommend that your readers also follow us on Twitter [Twitter.com/ScanMyPhotos] for tutorial updates, tips and news spanning the entire digital imaging industry.

    Mitch Goldstone
    President & CEO
    ScanMyPhotos.com

  28. posted by Catherine on

    I used MyPublisher.com to print digital hardcover books this Christmas and was very happy with their product (and prices). The downloadable program was easy to use; I chose between dozens of templates for each page and could adjust the size of the image. I liked the end product better than the book from Blurb, which my sister made.

  29. posted by Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome on

    I love the printed albums. My bf created one for our first anniversary and we plan to create another for our 3 week trip to Canada this year. We use a service in Spain called Hoffman ( http://www.hofmann.es/en/productos/productos0.asp ) where you can design each page and add text. We love it.

  30. posted by Mitch Goldstone on

    Erin – Also noticed that your faded photo example was in need of some extra TLC, so made this entirely restored picture.

    http://blog.scanmyphotos.com/2.....f-you.html

  31. posted by Kellie in Switzerland on

    I’ve also scanned thousands of old family photos and made books and short “movies” using iMovie. My routine has been to sort photos by person or event, then scan and create a book for that person – using birthdays and Christmas to help me set deadlines. Then I usually offer the originals to that person, though I have created a couple albums of very old photos because I love the original look.
    When I started scanning I set up a file naming system and followed it religiously. I also made sure to add keywords and other metadata to the photo at the time they were scanned (or brought into iPhoto). Most all the programs referenced here make it easy to add tags and other details that will help keep photos organized and easy to find.
    I’m still using iPhoto, though very tempted to change to Aperture, which my professional photographer husband routinely uses for thousands of clients’ images.

  32. posted by kayla on

    If you are going to spring for the $200 I *HIGHLY suggest using Adobe’s Lightroom. It has a database functionality to allow you to organise and access the photos, incredible colour correction facilities, built in web gallery and print layouts… Best money anyone with a camera can spend!

  33. posted by Mark Moline on

    A few things to think about:

    1. Document The Process. it may seem trivial to write out the steps for “make 2 dvds” take one to offsite, transfer files to offsite backup, etc. especially when you’re doing thousands of images now. But when this process is done and you need to do the next backup disc and the next and so on you’ll be glad you have a checklist to keep everything consistent.

    2a. If you’re using numbers in the names of your dvds (mypics1, mypics2, mypics3) make sure to put enough leading zeroes in there to account for a large collection. three should be enough. mypics001, mypics002, mypics003, etc. That will help your computer sort the list of backup discs appropriately.

    2b. If you’re using dates in the names of your dvds then use YYYYMMDD format for the same reason as 2a above. mypics20081225, mypics20090123…

    3. Consider the cost per gb for hard drives as an alternative to the dvds at the safe deposit box. Fill up a hard drive, put it in a static bag and foam-lined case and store that. Once a year spin it up and make sure it works. If it doesn’t rewrite the data on the drive from your DVDs. I believe Aperture makes this an easy process.

    4. A safety deposit box big enough to hold all this stuff is going to be expensive. Keep one copy at home and one copy at your place of work (unless that’s your home). Just stick ‘em in your bottom desk drawer and be done. If you’re extra paranoid then you could send one of your backup dvds to a friend/relative on the other side of the country with instructions to “just put it on a shelf in the closet”. Of course extend the offer to do the same for them.

    Finally, balance the mental and psychological stress costs of keeping every photograph meticulously organized and findable vs. how often you will actually look for and find that whole series of shots you took on your German vacation of that horse that you thought looked so intriguing. What I mean is grade and edit your photos as soon as you can after uploading them and make a special backup of just your “selects”. Those are the ones you’re really going to want to have later on down the line. As in the original post, these would be the images that make it into the hard copy books.

    And finally finally think about how you’re reviewing and saving the images from your ancestors. That’s the way your images will be viewed by your grandkids. Make it easy for them to find the really good ones. They will want to see their grandparents when they were young. They don’t want to see that horse in Germany.

    (no offense intended towards German horses!)

  34. posted by Keter on

    Even DVDs break down over time…actually, the magnetic media on the HDD is generally more stable over time. So I recommend backing up onto multiple media – I keep copies of “can’t lose” files on the system HDDs of all of three PCs, a two backup HDDs, CDs or DVDs, and in online archives. It is good practice to refresh your CDs and DVDs every 5-7 years, particularly if you are using the cheapest media you can find. Store your media like you would store a good wine – in a cool place where the temperature doesn’t vary much, away from sunlight.

    With really sentimental or historical pictures, I would recommend continuing to store them rather than tossing them. Digital imaging technology is still improving rapidly, so the scans you make today may look pretty crude in a decade or so, when it may even be possible to extract 3D information from old photos. It’s still worth doing, but consider that you may want to create a new set later on when technology is better.

  35. posted by Barbara Tako on

    Anyone know about fotobridge.com or scantodigital.com? Their prices are pretty low, and I am wondering if they are reliable?

    Also, is 300 dpi really good enough? Is 600 dpi really good enough if I scan a 4×6 and I want to print it out as a 8×10?

    I’ve tried using the negative scanner on my printer/scanner and I am not happy with the quality. I have had better luck scanning photos. How about anyone else? Thank you!

  36. posted by Laura on

    A few years ago my husband bought me an Epson scanner, which I have used to scan paperwork, photographs, slides and negatives.

    They all have come out superb! I am really happy with the results.

    I am sure the Epson I have is no longer available (I got it in 2004), but check around and see what is available: I find that not only am I scanning my own photos, but also important paperwork and drawings by my kids.

    BTW, please write as much info as you know on any old family photos – I inherited two full photo albums from 1915-1930 with gorgeous photos, none of them notated. I was able to describe a few pics to my Aunt (who is blind) and I found a very distant cousin in Indiana whose mother was a nurse in WWII. I scanned about 15 pictures, put them on a disc, sent her the disc AND the original photos … her mother as a baby, her grandparents … and she was thrilled beyond belief.

  37. posted by David on

    Concerning Linux, I have made good experiences with digikam, a KDE application. f-spot (gnome) could be compared to picasa, though I haven’t used it in a while. Some may be content using the limited organizing capabilities of gthumb. Needs and preferences differ, so I recommend trying them out – it’s free. :)

  38. posted by sm on

    This is so timely! I was totally just thinking about it and I am glad to have so many suggestions. Rock on, Unclutterer.

  39. posted by Joyful Abode: Domesticity by Trial and Error on

    I REALLY want to go through my photos and scan them and store them electronically… but my problem is I don’t know when they’re all from, and I’ll want to organize them at LEAST by the year they were taken (if not also by season or month).

    So… that’s what’s holding me back. Totally lame, I know, because they’re unorganized in my photo boxes at this point, taking up physical space… they may as well be unorganized in a folder on my computer, right? *sigh*

    Love the idea of getting them printed in books too. I’d want to do that somewhat chronologically too, so another roadblock.

  40. posted by Andrew on

    Joyful Adobe – if you’re like me, you have some pictures in photo albums, too. I am lucky in that my photo albums are arranged chronologically and I’ve saved things like concert tickets and stuff that has dates on them. Having this helps me fill in the blanks on the stuff that’s just lying around.

    I just completed scanning 1700+ slides of my father’s collection and trying to put those in order. They dated back to the mid 1950’s. I would urge anyone considering this kind of a project to do it sooner, rather than later. My father passed away in the 80’s and I had to reply on my mother’s memory to identify some of the people and circumstances in the images. She was able to fill in a lot of blanks but there are many that I’m just not 100% sure about where they fit in the timeline. It’s a lot easier when the person who took the pictures can tell you about them himself :-)

    I am scanning a bunch of pictures in my photo albums right now and hope to have the whole lot of them in iPhoto sometime this spring. Tedious, but important, too. I want my daughter to be able to go thru them in 15 or 20 years and know that they are in the right order, etc.

  41. posted by Terry on

    I want to just add to the conversation about archival discs. I am a professional photographer, and keeping images safe on discs is a huge priority. I have already seen discs kept perfectly well in storage become unreadable.

    I now use true archival discs – good brand names like Delkin’s archival gold. There is a reason they cost more.

    I burn two copies at the slowest burning speed you can – the slower the burn, the crisper the data bit, so if you can burn at 2x, do it. I then put the disc in a case and then in a plastic bag and seal it, then put both discs in a larger plastic bag and seal that – two freezer grade zip locs will do. They then to into storage. Storage is a constant temp – a friend of mine uses a wine refridgerator to keep his (at his storage facility with electric power).

    The key is gold layers, little or no oxygen, stored upright (the disc can warp over time if you lay it flat), and consistent temperature.

    I truly believe jpgs will be readable for decades. There was a lot of immaturity years back with file formats, but we’ve stabilized a lot since then.

  42. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    Please note that in the article I recommend having images in three storage systems: on DVD (or external hard drive), on your computer’s internal hard drive, and online. All three. At the same time.

    All of your data should be stored in three forms in three locations, not just images. This is a message we repeat frequently. Please do NOT rely on one form of storage for your data.

  43. posted by Another Deb on

    Thank you all for the amazing amount of information you all have posted here. I am a year or so into a family tree project, scanning prints and slides with my Epson 4990 Photo scanner(same as Laura’s?). I have thousands more slides and thousands more prints to scan and the task seems to just expand endlessly. on top of it all, I have been taking slides for 20 years as references for my science classes.

    This post answered a few dozen questions that have dogged me, such as the reliability of CD’s(thanks Terry), what kinds of files to save (jpegs, whew!) and at what resolution, what to do with the old prints, what online services to upload to and who to use for printing albums. I have been thinking about getting a portable hard drive and Mark Moline’s storage and naming format has been very helpful. Thanks OogieM for the book title that could really benefit my efforts.

    By the way Mark, my own German horse picture is a treasure, since it is being held by my great-grandfather in front of the family brewery about 1900!

    Are any of the online sites better for photos that the whole family can access? What’s shelf-life of an online photo-storage site in today’s economy? Anyone nervous that a Flickr-type company might fold unexpectedly?

  44. posted by midlifemom on

    For photo books take a look at Mpix.com. Their templates are amazingly flexible. You can even rotate the picture holders. Their professional series of print paper is amazing, but not inexpensive. I tested it out by ordering a print from kodak and one from mpix and the color difference was stunning. I have not seen their bound photo books yet. but, I have it on an avid photographer’s advice that the quality is great. I am working on a book and am looking forward to seeing the final copy. I also have used Blurb and My Publisher and thought Blurb was superior to My Publisher, but the Mpix software is the best, in my opinion.

  45. posted by midlifemom on

    One more thought…what about the issue of sending the photos away. I have not tried any of these scanning services because I am so worried that my only copy of my photos will get lost or destroyed after leaving my protective control. Just wondering what others think of this.

  46. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @midlifemom — Many people have similar concerns. Check with your local camera shop to see if they offer a local solution. Also, you could do it yourself with a nice photo scanner or one borrowed from a friend. The way I’m justifying sending mine off through the mail is that my house could burn down … and if it did, all of my pictures would be destroyed. I’m taking the same risk by NOT having them scanned.

  47. posted by cheryll on

    I was interested in saving photos, especially years of slides, until I did the math. A photo on good quality photo paper will easily last 50 years, and often 100, if stored properly. slides aren’t good for more than about 20, I have discovered.

    Digital media (laser read) will be easily readable for maybe 2 years, and at max, with retro equipment, 10. so this whole project will need to be repeated every couple times the software/hardware is upgraded.

    I just don’t want to be messing with them so often!

  48. posted by Susan on

    Another place to design your own hardcover books from your photographs is heritage makers. You completely control the design and can upload your own designs from other software or use their system to design your books.

    They will also backup your photos for you once they are uploaded to their website and their design software is through a web browser – no extra software to download

  49. posted by David Bump on

    I’ll echo the recommendation for Lightroom (PC & Mac; no Linux, sadly). It is very flexible as an image cataloger, and also very easy to use for image manipulation, whether simple or complex. I think having both functions in one package is indispensable.

    I’ll also echo the recommendation of using hard disk instead of CD/DVD for your archive media–onsite, offsite, anysite. You know you will need to migrate all of that data to new media to keep it accessible; the only question is when. Do you really want to manually load all of those DVDs into an optical drive, one by one and wait for each to copy? The same pain applies to the initial archiving process, which is then more likely to be postponed. The easier and faster backups are to perform, the more likely they are to get done regularly.

    I think online backup has potential, but currently I’d treat it as an expensive last resort. The upload rate on my cable broadband is not that much greater than my capture rate, in raw format. And a full disaster recovery would take a long, long time, even at high-speed download rates. It may be more feasible if you only have jpeg images.

    It’s also interesting that most of us (self included) are considering trading physical clutter of analog film for digital clutter of scanned images, which can be just as overwhelming, and in many ways much easier to screw up. I love the articles on reducing physical clutter, but I’m definitely interested in more focus on avoiding and reducing digital clutter.

  50. posted by Bill on

    One word of warning to jump from iPhoto to Aperture 2 – I attempted to make that jump recently, and it didn’t take, at all. While I’m sure that with the proper time investment in going through tutorials I would’ve gotten the hang of it, but I underestimated how frustrating it’d be to be dealing with my ongoing photo management with a tool that I didn’t understand at all how to use.

    Yesterday I picked up the new iLife ’09, and have so far been really enjoying iPhoto, training it whose faces are whose, in turn rediscovering photographs I didn’t even realize I had.

    My free trial with Aperture is almost up, and I’ll just let that expire. The only reason I could think of using Aperture in tandem with iPhoto (something I considered doing) would be because of its ability to customize or create layouts for photo books. That’s not worth $200 to me, though. I’d prefer that iPhoto work with Pages in iWork for that, personally.

  51. posted by Linda on

    To sum up what has been mentioned here: All photos are not equal. Vacation photos of scenery are not in the same category as your wedding photos. You don’t have to handle all photos the same. If you absolutely love it, keep it on paper, AND, up load it, AND put it on CD AND keep another paper copy at a relatives, etc.

  52. posted by Two Geeks and a Blog :: Geek News :: Quick Hits: Jan. 25 - 31 on

    […] Preserving digitized photos – Unclutterer […]

  53. posted by Candace on

    Last year I used DigMyPics.com to convert all of my hard photos and negatives to digital format. I was very impressed with their service and would highly recommend their company. Now I store all of my documents, music, and photos on Flipdrive as a safeguard if my computer dies. Hope this helps!

  54. posted by Don on

    I’m with you on setting my goal to hv all my photos & transparencies scanned in 2009. In this comment I’m addressing one point, the preservation of all those files we create. I’ve subscribed to Mozy for backup. Regardless that I work for EMC, Mozy’s part of the “Cloud” division, the $5/mth for all u consume storage is a bargain. In 2008 I ripped all my CDs to FLAC as a gold copy – some 130GB, Mozy’s got the lot. I know examples (non-EMCers) who hv used the recovery side of the service for real & it worked without hitch.

  55. posted by Jenny (usagi) on

    Talk about perfect timing! I’m just beginning the scanning of four large boxes of photos. So far I’ve been happy with speed/quality of using my Fujitsu SnapScan to do the photo scanning. I scan 10 photos at a time with the lowest compression and highest quality settings. At some point I’ll export them from the pdfs to tiffs and organize, but that is probably a project for the far distant future.

  56. posted by Diana on

    I love Picasa, but I haven’t found it entirely useful for organizing photos the way I want. I understand iPhoto is similar in that it sorts based on dates or folder names, but you can create your own method of sorting within the program. If anyone knows a method or program that allows that, I’d love to hear about it.

    I read about (and can’t find the link now) a website where you can mail in your old photographs and they’ll make matching, hardcover albums from high quality scans. They send you the books and the originals back. Might be a time saver if you have loads of photos.

  57. posted by I’m an Organizing Junkie » Link~Tastic - The Picture/Keepsake Edition on

    […] Preserving Digitized Photographs ~ @ Unclutterer […]

  58. posted by Erica on

    Great idea! I used a company called iPreserve.

    -They came to me to pick up and deliver my originals and newly digitized copies.

    -Their prices are very good for such a personal service.

    -I was extremely pleased with the final product.

    Check them out.

  59. posted by A Cagey Bee » Blog Archive » Ahhhhhhhhh! on

    […] – I always find good tips here & have several […]

  60. posted by Joe on

    I used http://www.briteroots.com to scan all my pics last year. They were very quick and easy to use. Also, I was happy to have all my images stored online for free. I think they are currently only 10 cents per photo right now.

  61. posted by Inki on

    Don’t know if anyone is still following this thread, but I recently started on a new Blurb book and noticed that the new version does have the ability for you to change the size and location of elements on the page – love it!

  62. posted by Lilli on

    I agree with all of your wonderful suggestions and have used Scan Cafe to scan in all of my old hard copies. The only thing is, I hate the look and feel of digital photo albums. Feels corporate, not homey. There is nothing better than an old photo album with black paper pages, filled with small black & white (or color) square photos, with a white border and jagged edges.

    For storage, digital photos is the way to go.
    For enjoyment, I prefer the old-school prints.

    Does anyone know of a service that will PRINT OUT (and/or use already existing prints) photos and then create a photo album with the prints?

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