These days, you probably take almost all of your photos using a phone or digital camera. Most of your snaps will never exist in physical form, and there are no negatives to keep track of. But if you go back a few years, your photo collection is likely to be a little more cumbersome.
Storing photos can be stressful, even if they’re just sitting in a cardboard box on some closet shelf. Those memories are irreplaceable, and protecting them can be a ton of work. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all at once. The important thing is to commit to protecting your collection and to get started – you can always take your time and finish this project over several weeks or months.
Before you start opening up those shoeboxes and photo albums, gather up a few supplies. You’ll be handling lots of photos, so it’s a good idea to get a pair of lint-free cotton gloves so that you don’t transfer dirt or skin oils to the photos you touch. You’ll also want some high-quality containers in which to store photos for safekeeping; archival-quality photo boxes with dividers are commonly available online and at photography and craft stores.
If you plan on digitizing your photos on your own, it’s also important to have a digital scanner and a computer with plenty of hard drive space. If your scanner is very old or your hard drive is nearly full, this may be the time to upgrade your equipment with a modern scanner and a spacious external hard drive.
One Memory at a Time
Begin by gathering all of your physical photos in one location near your computer. Once everything you need is in one place, there’s no right or wrong way to proceed as long as you keep working. You can sort your photos right off the bat, sort them as you scan or even wait until everything is scanned before making your final decisions about how to organize your collection.
Even if you have a fast scanner, the photo scanning process takes time and you’ll likely be repeating it hundreds or even thousands of times. Set up your photo scanning station in front of the TV if desired to help you stay on track and get through some of the more tedious steps in the process.
Digitizing your photo collection is the most important step toward preserving those images forever, but you’ll still want to take great care of your physical prints. Storing them in high-quality archival photo boxes is a great start, but the decision of where to store those boxes is equally important.
Don’t count on those boxes to do all the work of keeping your images safe. If you keep them in an area of the home that is damp or humid, such as a basement, attic or garage, the moisture can damage even your youngest photos. And if any flooding should occur, the whole box could be lost in an instant.
The best place to keep those boxes is in the HVAC conditioned space of your home, ideally on a high closet shelf. That will protect the images from moisture, high or low temperatures and even damage from light exposure.
Making your photos last lifetimes is just one of the ways in which modern electronics can enrich our lives and benefit future generations. Your local Mister Sparky may not be able to help you scan your photos, but they’re standing by to make sure your home has the power it needs to make this process a success. If you're investing in scanning equipment or a new hard drive for this process, now is also a good time to explore whole home surge protection to safeguard your investment. Call your local Mister Sparky for more information!