People come up with many crazy ideas just to keep memories alive. Some decide to paint murals or quotes on the walls, while others have their most important memories written on a dinner plate.
Others have their kids’ drawings engraved or stamped into silver or commission an artist to draw caricatures of all family members. But for most people, taking pictures is enough. After all, photographs immortalize memories.
From impromptu selfies on your mobile phone to more formal family portrait photography, pictures serve as constant reminders of the times you shared and the bonds you have with your loved ones.
But printed pictures fade over time, so you need to find ways to preserve those memories to make them last a lifetime. Here are four tips to do just that:
1. Digitize your memories
In this modern age, keeping digital copies of your photographs is the most practical way to ensure that they don’t fade – literally. Since these are kept in the computer or a mobile device (or detachable storage like memory cards and external hard drives), you can protect them from moisture and sun damage more easily.
To do that, here’s a step-by-step guide to digitizing printed pictures, especially old ones taken before digital photography was invented:
- Scan pictures using a high quality scanner.
- Restore or enhance pictures using photo editing software to remove dust, scratches, and other age signs on the scanned images.
- Set up folders in your device to organize the pictures according to date, person, location, or any other filing system you prefer.
- Save the scanned and enhanced pictures in the device and create a backup.
2. Compile digital albums on the Internet
Besides saving digitized pictures in specific devices, you can also keep them online. You see, even with extra care, file devices can still get broken. From viruses and malware to physical damage and the possibility of the device going missing, these things can prevent you from accessing your pictures in the future.
One way to overcome these possibilities is to keep digital albums on the Internet. You can do this by uploading the pictures on a website, social media, or cloud storage.
Deemed to be the best way to keep memories alive by some people, creating a website dedicated to images that capture moments in your life is easier now that free websites are available.
From creating different layouts, adding colorful backgrounds, and sorting images, a photo website allows you the freedom to do whatever you like.
The only downside to this is that the pictures will be accessible to other people, including those you don’t personally know.
If you’re not keen on investing time and effort in designing your own website, you can also choose to upload your pictures on social media. Pinterest, Instagram, and even Facebook are perfect for photo sharing.
Besides serving as a virtual picture display, some of these sites also provide awesome features that make remembering memories more meaningful.
For example, Facebook reminds users of memories they’ve collected through the years, by sending notifications on the anniversary of their activities on the platform. It also compiles uploaded pictures into slideshows per month or per year.
If you’re not keen on sharing your pictures with the public or even your virtual friends, you can choose to save them on cloud storage instead. This may not be as glamorous as having a website or posting on social media platforms, but it guarantees that you will always have access to the images even if other people don’t see them.
Just make sure you don’t forget your login credentials for the cloud storage you choose so you can get unhindered access to your photographs any time.
3. Keep acid and sunlight at bay
If you want to go old school and wish to preserve even the oldest print pictures of your family, two things you need to be wary of are acid and light.
Acids eat away at pictures. So, when choosing the kind of paper to print your photographs in, pick those that are made of acid-free material.
Light should also be kept at bay as the damaging rays of the sun can make the pictures fade over time. If you’re worried about fading, you can use archival boxes for keeping your photos in storage. These boxes help organize images based on the person, subject, or year while keeping the pictures away from light.
But if you still want to display pictures in your home, you should frame them and hang in darker parts of the house. You can also load them up in photo albums that should be acid-free and made from polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene. It’s best to avoid vinyl and adhesives as these can affect the quality of the photographs.
4. Practice proper photo storage
If you’ve decided to keep your pictures for the long haul, you should keep in mind photo storage best practices. Besides using archival boxes, you can also follow the tips below to make sure that future generations of your family would be able to look back at your memories:
Use acid-free dividers
Besides acid-free photo paper and albums, you should also use acid-free dividers to prevent pictures from sticking together. This is particularly crucial for images subjected to heat or that may come in contact with water.
Remember: The stiffer the divider, the better to keep the pictures flat in place. Take a hint from the photo albums wedding photographers use as they usually come with these stiff, acid-free dividers.
Avoid cramming photos and choose a good-sized container
Finding the right-sized container is also crucial for photo storage. Using boxes that may be short in length or width can damage and dog-ear the pictures before they even make it to the self-storage unit. The same is true for cramming too many photos in a single box.
On the other hand, having too much space inside the box is also not a good setup as it can cause the items to shift during transport. If you have no other choice but to use a big container, fill the remaining space with non-acidic tissue paper to keep the pictures from shuffling.
Choose the right albums
If you want to keep photographs in albums, be sure to use ones with the right cover. Although they may look pretty, avoid albums made from textiles as these tend to attract insects like moths and other cloth-eating pests. Stick to leather albums since these last long and do well in storage.
Immortalize Your Memories
Proper photo storage and handling are vital in keeping precious memories for an entire lifetime (or even more). Use the tips in this article to guide you in ensuring that your pictures will always be there to remind you of all the good times you had in your life.
American artist Shea Winter Roggio is a documentary and fine art photographer living in Dubai, UAE. Shea Winter Photography LLC provides documentary, editorial, and commercial photography services, along with video, television, and film production services, and retails photographic souvenirs such as fine art prints, canvas and frames.