Welcome back to my family memory keeping journey. I hope you are becoming inspired to get stuck into preserving those precious photos and memories – both old and new!
So far on our journey we have smiled as we are presented with copious amounts of family photos in varying states of storage and repair! We have then dedicated a few (or more) hours of time to removing these photos from their unsafe previous homes… and now what?
Well, this is the point at which it is easy to become overwhelmed. Where do I start? What on earth was I thinking? And (my own favourite) Who on earth put these photos in here and what sort of order is this?!?!
Which brings us to Step 3 – Sort Your Photos
I'm going to be completely honest – this CAN be time consuming, but the cost benefit is great! As in - the benefit of doing this properly at the beginning will reveal itself once you get into the ‘creating’ stage. Things will become quicker and easier! I promise ;)
There is no right or wrong way of doing this – whether chronologically (if you’re lucky enough to have dates recorded), or by people, families, groups, events, eras… Whatever you feel will make it easiest to record the stories and memories.
The photos you have received will often be mixed up in multiple albums/ boxes/ packets, and even multiple albums (belonging to different people) of similar photos. This ‘sorting’ step will make the scrapping process quicker while also lessening the chance of finding ‘extra’ photos later on after those pages have been completed! (Although the ProjectLife© system does allow for this – more on that later).
Sort your photos out – commandeer the dining table for a weekend if needs be – and give yourself plenty of space to create ‘piles’. Make a note of any of the information or labels from the albums, onto post-it-notes, and stick these with the photos, along with any other memorabilia. Don’t forget to check the back of photos for handwritten notes. When sorting, make a separate pile for photos that you have ‘no idea’ about, to come back to later on. You’ll be surprised at how you might recognise a background, an outfit or a group later on, and be able to reconnect some of these ‘lost’ photos. And if you can’t – maybe someone else can. If not, they are still a lovely inclusion, showing people, places, fashion trends and a general glimpse into the life and times of the day.
Step 4 – Gather the Memories
I hesitate to call this ‘Step 4’, because truthfully this is something that will continue throughout the entirety of the project. But now is as good a time as ever to begin!
Once the photos are sorted (or even as you are working through this), begin to collate the stories around the photos. Do you have other items – birth/death certificates, marriage certificates, newspaper clippings, receipts, lists, handwritten notes? Bundle these up with photos of the event/people concerned.
Make the most of any remaining older relatives – you may be surprised at what they remember and how happy they are to share their stories, recollections and insights. Making this a group effort certainly adds something to the journey ;) Using a voice recorder to talk through the photos creates an additional priceless memento! Number your photos if doing this, so you know which story belongs to which photo.
Step 5 – Scan & Store
Because these precious photos can’t be replaced, it’s important to scan them for sharing as well as security. Scan your photos at the highest possible resolution (at least 300 DPI or more), to allow for good quality reprinting. If you don’t have access to a scanner, a friend may have one you can borrow. Alternatively some stores will allow you to use their scanners (eg Officeworks) and save the files on a CD. Your local historical society may even have equipment that you can access to do this – along with some good advice and friendly assistance with the process, from people who value this type of pursuit!
When scanning, try to name the photos as you go. You might even like to sort the digital photos into ‘folders’ matching the way you have sorted the actual photos, to make them easier to find later on. Then give a copy of the scanned photos on disc to other family members and keep a couple of backups yourself, in different places “just in case”.
Some of your photos may well be in need of repair and editing, before being reprinted. This is the perfect time to call in a favour and let someone ELSE in the family contribute to the project ;) If you have a few clever family or friends, you could share the packets around, and if not there are also commercial services who specialise in this type of work.
Once you have scanned them, store the sorted photos in a way that makes them easy to see and use. Index card boxes, a folder or envelopes would work, but I have chosen to use ProjectLife© pocket pages in which to store my ‘piles’.
There is a wide range of these available from Dizzy Izzy! And the beauty of doing this is that I can store all of my sorted photos in the same album binder along with the pages I have completed. This has also helped me work out what size album will work best and what configuration of pages will suit my photos.