Monday, August 6, 2012

How to manage your photographic legacy

My mother worshipped babies. She was happiest with a baby in her arms, and when she couldn’t hold a baby, she’d take its picture.

As her grandbabies grew up, she still worshipped them and took their pictures. Years after her death, we still find huge deposits of photographs that she developed into double prints. Her legacy is that we get to sort and preserve them.

Full disclosure: I haven’t “managed my photographic legacy,” I’ve “mangled” it.

Most, not all, of my photographs taken from 1976 to 1999 are in albums, with sporadic labeling and skimpy chronology, and certainly without cute scrapbooking in plaid, ribbons and lace.

At least I got them out of the “magnetic” (sticky page) albums that were so bad for photos, an effort that set me back 10 years in photo organizing.

Around 2000, we got our first digital camera and sailed into a new world. We developed photos only for special occasions and stored them in a huge file on our computer. This library grew and grew until a nuclear bomb blew up inside our computer and annihilated it.

OK, it wasn’t nuclear, and it wasn’t a bomb, but the results were the same.

Yes, I’ve learned valuable lessons and have picked up other useful tips I plan to implement soon!

1. Take pictures. Mom had it right. She knew how quickly babies grow, and she shot pictures in the moment. If you never shoot it, you’ll never have it.

2. When a digital camera makes you so giddy with power that you take numerous shots in the quest for the perfect one, remember to delete the duds.

3. Delete duds in dog-eared boxes or albums, as well. Over-exposed and under-exposed, multiple shots and photos where nobody looks good go into File 13. Scenery pictures can go if they have no special significance.

4. Label, label, label. People you know today will look like strangers in the misty future. This applies to both hard copy photographs (use a fast-drying acid-free pen or a No. 2 pencil on the back of the photo) and to photographs on the computer, because it’s a lot harder to find that darling photo of Baby Joshua on his big brother’s bike when it’s labeled IMG 2397 instead of “Joshua Mike’s bike ‘79 Nampa.” Label with names, date (approximate if you’re not sure) and place, if possible.

5. Sort into albums or files on the computer however you’d like — chronologically, by person or by event.

6. Scan photos to your computer and save them on places such as hard drives, external drives, online storage services and CDs. Store a set away from your home in case of disaster.

7. Never laminate photos, and use albums with pages that cover and seal photographs and that are archival safe and lignin and acid-free.

8. Store albums in a dark box, all in the same place so you can “grab and run” in an emergency. Fires that destroyed homes this summer burned irreplaceable photos.

9. Look at your photos often. Mom’s photos bring me close to her, Dad and to others. What a legacy!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Debra,

    We enjoyed your blog entry and was hoping to add it to our Genealogy Flip-Pal blog. Would this be okay? Here is our blog website -- you can see other bloggers that we are highlighting as well.

    Thanks! Shantel