Unclutterer reader Mary wrote to us about her challenges regarding scanning and saving her family photos. Last week, I wrote about deciding which photos to scan and choosing a photo scanner or a scanning service.
Once the scanning has been done, there are a few more decisions to make.
Decide how to privately store the scanned photos
You’re not going to want to store those photos in a single place, because they are too valuable for that. So, if you use a scanning service and the photos are returned on a DVD, don’t keep them only on that DVD.
If you have a limited number of photos, and you have a good computer backup strategy in place, you may want to simply load the scanned photos onto your computer and rely on those backups.
But if you have a large photo collection, you may want to look at cloud storage options. Some new options are Yahoo’s Flickr 4.0 and Google Photos, both of which were announced in May. On The Verge, Casey Newton wrote a summary of photo storage options in April, along with updates for Flickr 4.0 and Google Photos. Both of these services provide tools to automatically upload photos and a huge amount of storage space. They also have tools to automatically detect what’s in the photos and then organize the photos for you.
Decide how to share the photos
Both Flickr and Google Photos have photo-sharing options, so you can easily take photos from your private storage and share them with others in a variety of ways, including exporting them to social networks such as Facebook or sharing via emailed links. Of course, you can share photos using social networks and email without using either of those tools, too.
You may also decide you want to print out some of the best photos to a photo book, as Dave suggested. You could also put selected photos on a digital photo frame.
Decide what to with the originals
Archivists will tell you to always save the originals, whether that means negatives, prints, or slides. The National Archives website states: “Do not throw away your original film and prints after you digitize them. Digitized images are not considered a replacement for originals. Data (i.e. your images) can be lost when the storage media deteriorates; and software and hardware technology become rapidly obsolete, in some cases making retrieval of the images difficult if not impossible.” Unclutterer reader Michael made a similar point in the comments to last week’s post.
However, this is a personal risk management decision, and you may decide to ignore that professional advice. Remember that photos need to be stored properly if they are going to be preserved — you can’t just throw them in the attic. If you do decide to keep them, you’ll want to use storage materials that pass the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). There are boxes designed specifically for negatives, as well as boxes for prints.
In the past, Erin has suggested offering the originals to friends and relatives as a way to get them out of your home without destroying them.