The Cassia Life

Those Old Family Photos

Like Gold Hidden Away

Just where are they right now–your cache of old family pictures?

Numbering in the hundreds, maybe the thousands, such collections might include prints, negatives, slides, digital prints on your home computer, home movies, videos, even DVDs. You know something needs done to preserve them for the future, for family members now babies growing up, or descendants not even yet with us. They will want to know what YOU looked like when you were their age, or what they themselves were like as a small child.

Perhaps minimally organized into shoeboxes (my own) and occupying scarce shelf space in the basement. You’re at wit’s end as to what to do, thinking few good answers exist. And besides, you’ve many other high-priority tasks on your “To Do” list.

Is it possible that we approach denial when we tell ourselves there is no way to organize our photo stack? Maybe we just haven’t investigated the many  ideas available.

Augustana resident Flo Entzel has a highly prized set of a several hundred family photos in print form as well as preserved digitally on her computer.  As the mother of six of her own children, Flo has lost three. So you can imagine how important those photos are.  “We’ve always been a family that takes pictures,” she relates. “I just looked at them all again this morning.”

Dave Saemrow, vice president of marketing for Cassia, has an estimated 600 photos plus 20 videos taken by he and his wife over 40 years. “They carry memories of our children growing up, of weddings and other special occasions,” said Dave, adding, “We’re considering having the photos and videos digitalized so our children and other generations can enjoy them.”

Mary Burns of Richfield, Minnesota, preserved family photos by having a limited edition personal history book written and published. The book is hard cover and contains 135 photos, most in full color.   Mary said that she did throw away some of the very oldest photos in her collection.

The advent of digital photography (digital everything!) dramatically changed the technical and artistic aspects of taking pictures. More and more are being taken. Earlier, film limited the number of photos you would take: a 36-exposure roll was usually max, the cost of film and processing considered. But with digital, you can just shoot at will, maybe wind up with several hundred on a single 1×1” card.

The result, of course, is more and more photos in the family collection. And on average they are better because you took more shots of a subject and culled out the bad ones.

“Keep shooting until the little ones smile big,” Mom instructed Dad. 

Interestingly, digital also brought about a solution to more photos. With digital, you can store thousands of photos on your computer’s hard drive. Which itself utilizes far less space than a single shoebox.

If most of your photos are prints made from negatives you can scan and store them right along with your newer digitals. A quality scanner costs $200 or less, or acquire a Hewlett Packard do-it-all printer for about $300 that will scan, FAX, copy and print.

Or check out Legacybox, a company that will convert to digital and standardize as to format any photo collection.

I received a PHOTOshare Frame at Christmas and am enjoying using it.  From my computer, I send it photos by email and the Frame merges them into a “slide show.” Others can send photos as well. A sound signal tells you when new photos have come in.  

Since the PHOTOshare’s photo storage space is 5 gig, the photo capacity is practically unlimited.  Retail price of the Frame runs $125 to $150. Tech support by telephone is available.

The unit organizes photos, then displays them continuously as in a slide presentation until you delete.

WiFi is required. Actual photo display space is 8½x5½ inches, ideal for desk-top placement and a single or two viewers.

So part of the solution to what to do with all those old photos is to make good use of them, to bring them into daily life. To help, a range of products is available at camera stores and at general merchandise retailers such as Target and Walmart.

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