3 Surprising and Valuable Benefits of Digitizing Family Photo Albums

2014-05-21 11.10.03 The genesis of the project was practical and uninspired – but the outcome was akin to finding hidden treasure.

No Room For Albums

When we moved into our smaller space,  we simply did not have room for the family photo albums we had lovingly assembled over the years. We had no choice but to box them up and put them in an unfinished attic.

Concern About Loss

Although we had not looked at most of the albums for decades, it still felt wrong to put them in an inconvenient and somewhat unprotected space. Family photographs comprised the few sentimental items remaining after our mega-edit of over 80% of our possessions. Making the memory books inaccessible undercut the purpose for retaining them.

Resolve to Not  Get Used  to It

When I worked as a house cleaner, I was consistently surprised at how quickly people could tune-out glaring upkeep issues.  Needed work  became “invisible” if  it was left unattended for a certain period of time.

As we approached our first attic storage anniversary,  I knew we needed to take action or our albums and the need to protect them would be largely forgotten.

Process Easier Than Anticipated

Once started, the process of digitizing our family albums was much easier than anticipated.  While there are many wonderful tools and protocols,  we simply removed photos from albums and sorted them into batches such as “1980 Ranch”,  “2006 Graduation”,  “2009 Hawaii”, etc.   Placing the year in front of the batch description created an easy to follow chronology.  We then ran the batches through our ScanSnap scanner and uploaded the images to DropBox.  Such made the images accessible on all our devices and easy to share.  It was also a great comfort to have the images backed-up and significantly safer from loss.

Simple Life Reboot PostcardsFirst Surprise Benefit – Discovery of Hidden Love Letters
As I mentioned,  we had not opened most of the albums for decades. I had forgotten the numerous postcards we had included in the albums due to our family practice of purchasing extra postcards to supplement our rather deficient photographic skills.

As I began removing postcards from the magnetic pages, I discovered most were not blank.  Rather,  much to my delight, we had  a huge cache of  long forgotten messages sent by beloved family members who have since passed.  These beautiful  messages shared tales of adventure and love.

Second Surprise Benefit-  Easy “Then-and-Now” Photos

With family images easily accessible on my iPhone,  we could now take time-lapse pictures with family members re-creating a scene from a photograph taken years earlier.  What fun!!

Third Surprise Benefit – Opportunity to Reach Out

As we assembled our new digital database of  family images, we came across images we knew others would want to see.   With a few clicks,  we were able to forward images that opened new lines of communication and allowed us to reconnect with loved ones.  In so doing,  we rediscovered why the images were so precious to us in the first place.  They preserved memories and created new opportunities to connect with our loved ones.  It was a legacy worth preserving,  cherishing… and sharing.

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We would love to hear how you save and share family images. Please let us know in the comments below.


Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com


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9 thoughts on “3 Surprising and Valuable Benefits of Digitizing Family Photo Albums

  1. This is such an important step in our world of technology. My grandparents did not take many photos but it is sad to inherit them and not know who the people are. My parents had more photos and added 8mm home movies to the collection. I started photo albums just like you and then stopped when I was able to use my digital cameras and store them on my computer. My kids are completely digital.

    The common thread is how to enjoy all of the above. It is a personal and very important decision to be the person who is the keeper of the family memories. Each generation has their story and it will be so important to keep those stories alive.

    Great article Sheryl — you show that just making the decision is half the battle.

  2. This has been on my to do list for a couple years. After reading your post, I feel less intimidated and more motivated . Thank you! What model ScanSnap did you use? What dpi?

    • Thank you for your kind comments, Lee Ann. I would love to hear about your experience with your project. In answer to your question, I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 and the color copies are 600 dpi. The model comes with a great organizing system and a carrier page that permits me to scan old newspaper articles and delicate and odd-shaped items.

  3. What a great idea! If you have thousands of pictures this will take some time. However it appears it will be well worth it! Thanks for the inspiration to try this.

  4. Wow, what a project! We have boxes of my grandparents photos (my grandpa took a ton of pictures). You’ve given me a gift idea for Christmas 🙂

  5. Wonderful idea you’ve given me here ~ to make a collage of our family’s “hidden love letters” and place it on the wall in our home. A very personal piece of art to enjoy and revive great memories every time we see it.

  6. What did you do with the photos that you scanned? That is the part I’m finding difficult. I know they’re probably not recyclable, but my sentimentality won’t let me just trash them. 🙁

    • A number of our precious photos still hang on our walls. It is reassuring to know we have copies of those photos safely stored in the cloud. However, for most, after double checking we had digital back-ups, we let them go. It can be a challenge, but it was the right approach for us.