Whether you just want to store your photos so you can slowdown their wear and tear, or if you want to store them after the digitization process for nostalgic sentiments, it is important to perform due diligence on best practices and products when it comes to organizing, storing, and digitizing them.
How to Organize Photos
If you have piles upon piles of photos, all mixed together without rhyme or reason, it is difficult to start sorting them out. This short guide will help you sort them out.
As we are talking about physical photographs, you have no means of instantaneous sorting you would have with digital photos: by date, size, dimension, author, and dozens of other filters you can apply to any digital file.
Which means you have to eyeball each individual photo. However, even if your photos are in disarray, they are most likely clumped together around a common event because they were developed that way.
Next, after clustering them around common events – birthdays, weddings, vacations, funerals, graduations, sports… – categorize them by time. Ideally, it would be great if the backsides of photos are labeled by date, but if that is not the case, it is actually easy to distinguish certain eras depending on the quality of the photos themselves, along with clothing style, furniture, progressing age of the people, etc.
After you have sorted the photos based on events and time, and stacked them into neat piles based on those criteria, there is only one criteria remaining to be applied – which photos do you want to keep. In the end, you are left with clearly organized stacks, ready for labeled storing, or even better – digitization.
Tips on Storage Conditions
People have a habit of storing things they don’t use on a regular basis, to attics, basements or garages. This would be the worst thing to do when it comes to photos, because the environments in such places fluctuate greatly, based on the changing seasons, not to mention humidity which facilitates the growth of mold and fungus.
Therefore, you should always store your photos in the living areas, preferably in closets and cabinets, far away from heating or cooling ventilation, and above ground. Keep these things in mind for the best way to store photos that are digital if you are not using a cloud.
As for the storage container solutions, the best ones would have to satisfy the follow requirements:
- Containers should have a tight seal with robust latches or hinges, preferably waterproof. Plastic is a cheap, durable, lightweight, and recyclable material.
- The inner space within the box should either have dividers to more efficiently organize the photos, or you should place the photos inside specially designed sheets made out of polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene.
- Avoid contact with any kind of adhesives, while you store and organize your photos. Adhesives contain acidic ingredients that deteriorate photos over time.
- Photo albums already contain photo-preserving slots, have thick covers, and serve to organize photos, so it would be ideal to then store the albums inside a container.
- Avoid albums made out of textiles, so you don’t attract moths. Leather-type or plastic material is a sure way to avoid this issue.
- Space the photos evenly; not overstuffed, and not sparse so they don’t shuffle around when you move the box.
Photo Storage Containers
Advantus Photo Keeper offers multiple layers of safety, as the box contains 6 individual photo cases, making it even easier to organize the photos. The capacity of each case is 100 4 x 6 inch photos, which totals to 600 photos for the entire box.
Just make sure to keep this transparent box in a closet, cabinet, or a drawer, so you don’t expose it to sunlight.
The dimensions of the container are 8 x 7.5 x 5.2 inches, weighing at only 1 pound.
Advantus Photo Keeper is sturdy, cheap, and super convenient due to included 6 cases that snugly fit into the box. Perfect cheapest solution for storing photos.
Photograph Storage Boxes
If you are not worried about fires or floods, then a stylish cardboard box from Pioneer will be the most cost-effective solution.
Each box can hold over 1100 photos, for up to 4″x7″ sized photos, so it’s safe to say that only a couple of these cheap boxes would be enough for a life time’s worth of photos.
Furthermore, each box has included dividers on which you can write dates, subjects, events, and other comments.
Organizational fortitude of this box is further increased with front metal identification plate and a set of index cards.
The box’s dimensions are 11.25″L x 7.75″W x 4.5″H, with a negligible weight of under 12 ounces.
What to Do with Old Photo Albums
No matter how convenient and efficient digital technology is, if you belong to a certain generation, you are still emotionally attached to the old way of doing things. And when we are talking about precious family mementos, the connection is even stronger and more visceral.
Family photo albums in particular have a special place in our hearts; their unique design, the sturdy feel, the tactility of the hard leather covers…
Some photo albums in the later part of the last century became entirely utilitarian, eschewing aesthetics for functionality, so it is much easier to part with them.
Whatever the case may be, you can either follow the path of storing them indefinitely, or the path of digitization – transforming your physical photos into digital files.
However, if you truly want to preserve your photos indefinitely, digitization is the best approach as we are now living in a world of an effective, infinite data redundancy, meaning that it becomes extremely difficult to lose your data if you have followed even the most basic backup measures.
This can either be accomplished via online storage services like GoogleDrive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and many others, or it can be accomplished by buying your own physical storage device, be it USB memory stick, HDD, SSD, or an SD card. Nonetheless, it is always safer to upload your most valuable digital content to online storage and sharing services, because they have the highest grade of storage and safety measures, ones that are out of reach for an average consumer.
When it comes to interacting with photo albums, for whatever purpose, keep in mind that taking the photos out of the album page sleeves can permanently damage them. Over time, there is a certain level of infusion that occurs between the photo material and the photo album material.
If possible, always make sure to scan the photos first, before removing them from the photo album.
Photo Album Scanner
There are three types of scanners that can digitize your photos with a high degree of quality:
- Handheld scanners
- Flatbed scanners
- Overhead scanners
Flatbed scanners are the most common ones, and can be found regularly in all-in-one devices that have multiple functions like printing and faxing.
However, when we are dealing with photo-album scanning, we mentioned previously that there is a valid concern of damaging your photos while extracting them from the album page sleeves.
There is only one foolproof way to address this concern – scanning the photos without removing them from the album. And this is where the Rapid Photo Album Scanner comes in.
Although not as nearly compact as handheld scanners, or more convenient as overhead scanners, it can be still considered handheld because you have to manually move it across the surface you want scanned. This has an advantage over traditional photo scanners which requires loose photos to scan.
In addition to serving as a conventional scanner, it also has slots for converting your negatives and slides (35mm) into digital photos. In short, the Rapid Photo Album Scanner is an all-in-one solution for your digitization needs, when dealing with both developed and undeveloped photos.
The scanning power of this machine is facilitated by the 14 MP CMOS sensor with LED lights, which creates impeccable digital mirrors of any surface you scan, while the in-built 2.4” color screen lets you know exactly what you are doing at any moment of scanning, and what are the results.
The size of the surface being scanned should not exceed 4”x6”, which is enough for almost all photos and album pages. If not, you can always edit and merge the produced JPG files later on.
Rapid Photo Album Scanner will recognize both PC and Mac systems via USB connection, and it comes with a memory card and media holders for 35mm slides and 35mm negatives.
As our civilization moves further into the digital era, products that offer quality solutions for storing, sorting, and digitizing, are more affordable, convenient and robust than ever. Let this guide be your starting point in safely preserving your memories, and converting them for the posterity, one that will only know the digital medium as default.