How and where do you store your photographs? Rita Norton and Brina Bolanz asked this question at a recent National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Oregon Chapter meeting. Yes, one of our answers was--shoeboxes--along with photo albums and plastic boxes; storage places mentioned were attics, basements, closets, drawers, and garages.
Rita is a training specialist with the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO), and Brina is a photo archivist and personal historian who owns Restored Stories. Both organize and showcase photographs (in different ways) for a living; their websites provide greater detail about organizing, storing, and preserving paper and digital photographs for future generations to enjoy.
Rita and Brina shared several tips and a few are listed below to help you get started with your photo preservation project:
1. Gather all your photographs into one place and sort them into these categories:
- Photographs that tell a story and are photo-album worthy
- Photographs you want to keep, but not necessarily share
- Photographs destined for the trash container as family members are unable to recognize faces and places and because they are unlabeled.
2. Scan your photographs into your computer, then use a free program such as Picasa, an image organizer and viewer, for organizing and editing your digital photographs.
3. Back up your files! Use one of these:
- Gold DVDs, purported to last 100-300 years
- External hard drive
- Cloud storage:
Brina Suggests:1. Proper storage is essential to preserve photographs.
- Light, temperature extremes, water and humidity, and gases given off by chemicals in household products can cause degradation.
- Use only materials that pass the Photographic Activity Test (P. A. T.), administered by American National Standards Institute (ANSI), rather than products labeled "Acid Free," a term not regulated by the Federal government. These products may be purchased from photography stores, or online from:
- Gaylord Brothers: www.gaylord.com
- Hollinger Metal Edge: www.hollingermetaledge.com
- University Products: www.universityproducts.com
2. Label your photographs because they are not useful without identifying information:
- Use a 4B (soft) graphite pencil for all-paper photos and write on a hard, flat surface, preferably glass, to avoid damaging the front of the photograph.
- Write names, life dates, location, and event (if known) along the top or bottom edge of the back of the photograph.
- Write women's maiden names in parentheses.