Looking through old photos and videos is so much fun—it can instantly bring a smile to your face, (think old or baby and toddler Halloween costumes). In fact, it is considered a great way to recharge your mind and soul. But what if you have old photos and videos from the pre-digital era? Odds are they are taking up a lot of space, they may be fragile, and sometimes old videos can become defective. It is, therefore, a great idea to preserve them. But how do you preserve old photos and videos?
Fortunately, there is technology to help us transcribe, preserve and share our precious memories. Here’s how you can ensure that future generations enjoy your photo and video memories.
Label and Categorize Old Photos and Videos
Start by sorting through original photos and videos to organize and label them according to their content. This is a great way to reflect on your life, but it also opens up a great opportunity for you to share memories with friends and family.
Here are a few helpful tips when handling old photos and film:
- Make sure your hands are clean and dry.
- Keep food and drinks away from your workstation as you navigate this exercise to protect the integrity of your original prints and film.
- Use acid-free, archival-quality ink and materials when labeling and organizing your originals. They will protect your originals from damage over the years.
- To save space, consider getting rid of doubles and similar shots.
- In the unfortunate event of damage to old photos and videos, speak to a restoration expert.
Digitize Old Photos and Videos
The next step in preserving your memories is to digitize old photos and videos.
There are several ways to approach this project. You can:
Digitize Photos By Yourself
- Scan images into a computer individually with a scanner;
- Use your smartphone to capture digital images of your old photos;
If you have many old photos, this will end up being a long-term project. If you feel uncomfortable outsourcing your precious memories to third parties, this may be the best option.
Outsource Photo and Video Digitizing
- For photos, outsource to a digitization service;
- For videos, find a service that can convert VHS or Super 8 movies to a digital format.
Sending your precious memories to a third party can be scary and intimidating, (especially if you only have one copy of everything). However, remind yourself that it’s the best way to ensure your memories will withstand the test of time.
Consider that technology is changing at such a rapid pace, and the formats that you have may become obsolete. Sure, you can find VHS players at thrift stores, but that won’t last forever. Also, many new TVs won’t recognize these old technologies. By getting your videos digitized, you can ensure that you’ll be able to watch them again and again.
Store Film Appropriately
Once you’ve organized and digitized your photos and film, the next step is storing originals away in a safe place. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Invest in a few heavy-duty totes to protect your originals.
- Avoid cardboard boxes—these aren’t waterproof and they attract pests.
- Store your originals somewhere dark and dry, like a closet.
- Avoid areas prone to dampness or temperature fluctuations, like attics and basements.