I've been spending one hour each weekend scanning old photos into my computer. I then take the actual photos and carefully archive them. As we all know scanning is a BORING albeit necessary task. Here's some things I've learned and some of the questions I still have.
- I have no artistic talent at all. I am the black hole of artistic talent. So I'm scanning the photos as best as I can. I try to adjust the quality, but am mostly leaving that to others. If the photo is digitized, someone else can adjust color, tint, brightness, etc. I have a slew of snapshots that came from the 1950s that are turning red and many from the 1920s and 1930s that are just fading away. I'm sure there's a way to enhance the photos, but it's beyond my skill level.
- I find that naming the photos is difficult. I think each file deserves a name. There is a method that you can name the photo a number and keep a spreadsheet that has that number as a key and includes much more information. However, I worry that means you need to keep track of two things and if the spreadsheet is somehow separated from the photos, others won't be able to identify the pictures. So, I'm naming the principal person or event in the photo. I'm being consistent in naming individuals. I hope that when I make a book of this, I can put a list of who's who. That is, there are no less that five Paul Dolinsky's. So, I have keyed them in my mind, so I'll need to explain that to someone, if they can't catch on. Also, I made the executive decision to call women by their maiden names in all cases. I excluded all relationships (such as Aunt Pauline or Great-Grandma), because they are only relational to me and can confuse people. I am trying to add metatags to the photos.
- I never change what's already written on the backs of photos.
- On glossy photos, I use acid-free ink. On paper photos I use pencil. I've been counseled to a #1 pencil--but I cheat and lightly used a #2 pencil.
- All photos are put in acid-free sleeves and in an acid-free photo box. Large photos lie flat. Smaller photos are sorted and stacked up like index cards.
- After I take a digital image, I send the original to the nearest relative of the subject. I don't need all the wedding photos of my great-aunts and uncles, etc. But my cousins probably want them! One never knows if you are the one who was lucky enough to save the only original of such photos.
- I don't know the provenance of all the photos. That's difficult in figuring out unknown faces. Are they my family, or friends or in-laws of my family?
So, this has been an ongoing project. We'll see how it all turns out.