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Photos: Your Treasured Possession or a Forgotten One?

According to the Save Your Photos website, “The Save Your Photos initiative is a public service outreach campaign developed by The Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) to teach individuals how they can preserve life’s irreplaceable photos, videos and documents, in case of unforeseen accident or disaster.” As a member of this organization and a Personal Photo Organizer, it is my goal to help everyone I can to protect their personal history.

Whether you make preserving your photos a priority in your life or not, the fact is that your photos are truly your most treasured possessions; a concept you most likely won’t fully grasp until you’ve lost them. Sadly, like most people, you probably procrastinate and get too busy to follow through on your best intentions to get your print photos scanned and all your photos safely backed up. We’ve all heard stories about people devastated at having lost their family photos from the last 100 years, the only picture of “Uncle Bob” that was in existence or all the photos on their mobile phone or computer. I just read a story yesterday about a woman who mourned the loss of her photos when her mobile phone exploded. (Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt.) Did she mention losing documents she had on the phone? Or contacts? Or music? No. She mentioned pictures because those are what mattered to her most–as she came to realize too late. She discovered this the hard way by not having a good backup plan in place.

Do you have your print photos scanned? If not, why not? What excuses have you made to yourself for not getting it done? If you were to lose all your photos tomorrow, would those excuses look extremely lame? I’m guessing yes.

Let’s take a closer look at the two most common excuses.

Not enough time. Sounds like maybe an attitude adjustment is needed. (And I say this with the kindest intentions.) We’re all busy. I get that. Our society is built on busy to the extreme. But you really can’t carve out an hour or two a week to purge duplicate or bad photos from your albums and boxes? Slimming down your photo collection is a lot easier than slimming down your waist line! Boom! There’s a better way to look at getting started on your collection.

Or perhaps you have people trying to steal your time to do things you don’t want to do. Now you just tell them you have a previous commitment and you can’t commit to them. You don’t have to tell them your commitment is to a dusty, old shoebox of century old photos or baby albums of your kids that you’ll be crying over for hours about how adorable they “used” to be.

Everyone can find an hour or two a week to get this project started. It’s committing to doing it that’s difficult. You only need apply the same attitude to this as you do to driving your kids to their “whatever” practice or your attending a weekly yoga class. So just resolve to give it a try this week. Commit to getting the photos out and spending just one hour purging. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done. And if you have kids that are old enough to help, make them help. It’s a great way to teach them about family responsibility (or payback for you carting them around everywhere) and family history at the same time.

Once you purge your photos, you can start organizing them by themes, people, events, years, etc. The way to look at this is to think of how you would organize them on your computer. Each category is essentially a “file folder” that can also have subfolders. For example, the top level could be by year “1935” or decade “1930s” and subcategories could be “Grandma and Grandpa Jones,” “Aunt Lucy” and “Mom.” Once they’re organized on a high level, they’re ready to be scanned.

If you commit to two hours a week, you could have a medium-sized collection done in a month or less. Of course, this depends on the type of collection you have and whether you concentrate on the matter at hand or you frequently wander off to the land of reminiscing. So keep the reminiscing to a minimum. Once you’re done, you can reminisce all you want.

And if these suggestions aren’t enough to move you to act, then maybe this will: If you lose your collection to a natural disaster, accident or environmental damage, then this “time” issue you’re struggling with will be instantly resolved for you. No photos, no need to make time to get them scanned and preserved. Boom! Problem solved. However, future generations that have little or no family pictures or history will lament the loss of getting to know, learn from and love those that came before them because no one took the time to preserve their family identity and heritage. Please don’t let this happen to your family.

Too expensive. Depending on the size of your collection, cost could be a concern for you. Scanning isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t super expensive either. I can tell you without reservation that the amount you spend on frivolous things in your life are far more expensive and less meaningful than the amount you’d spend preserving your family history and memories.

For example, a $4.00 Starbucks drink could buy you 10-20 scanned photos. A $20 dinner could get you 50-100 scanned photos.( The scan prices are based on 20 and 40 cents a scan and are for illustrative purposes only.) If you buy drinks, breakfast, lunch and/or dinner every day or several days a week, multiplied by two if your spouse does the same, then you could have your whole photo collection scanned “for free” by temporarily moving your eating out funds to the photo scanning project.

While the drinks or meals are satisfying and delicious in the moment, nothing lasting comes from them. But investing in getting your photos scanned and preserved is something that lasts a long time. Conceivably for a lifetime. Now that’s lasting!! That’s a legacy from which you and future generations can benefit.

You might use your extra income for other things instead of eating out such as clothes, shoes, hobbies, music collection, etc. Almost all of us can find extra cash for the things we want. It just sometimes involves making temporary sacrifices.

So the question becomes, “Do you want to be a part of creating something great that will impact you and future generations in amazing and positive ways, or simply enjoying living in the moment instead?” Only you can decide.

And if finances are beyond tight, you can always get small batches of your photos scanned at a time. You don’t have to do them all at once. The goal is for you to get them scanned and backed up as soon as possible.

Now it’s time to Take the Pledge to save your photos! Go to SaveYourPhotos.org and sign up. You’ll get daily tips and help throughout the month of September to motivate and educate you on your journey to saving your photos.

If you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with your friends.

If you’re interested in learning more about photo scanning and organizing, preservation products and ideas, visit Shoeboxphotoscans.com.

To catch up on the photo tips for September, visit my Shoebox Photo Scans Facebook page.



October is here. Uh oh! Christmas shopping is near.

If you’re the type of person who likes to get a jump on your Christmas shopping, you’ve probably already started and have gifts hidden away. My friend’s mom starts her shopping right after the first of the year. She is usually done by July!

I don’t start thinking about it until at least November. And I don’t start taking action until after December 1st. Every year I tell myself I’ll get started early so I can keep my eye out for bargains. I have succeeded in doing that some years, but in other years I am scrambling to find the gifts I want because too many times the items are out of stock. Of course, they’re always seasonal items and the store won’t be getting any more in. Panic and anxiety then rushes through every part of my body. Can anyone relate?

For all the procrastinators and late starters out there, I’m sending out this gentle reminder to start thinking about Christmas a little earlier than usual. You can get a jump on your gift buying and let others be the ones to find the shelf empty for a change. I don’t mean for that to sound cruel but, hey, it shouldn’t have to be you every year getting the short end of the stick.

Top 3 Tips for Stress-Free Gift Buying

  1. Start NOW trying to find out what your loved ones really want. Waiting until the last minute to think about what you want to get someone is just asking for trouble. Drop hints, ask subtle questions, go shopping and watch what makes their eyes light up or draws their attention. You’ll probably get plenty ideas to work with before Christmas shopping kicks into high gear.
  2.  Actually LISTEN to your loved ones when they talk and complain. This might seem like a strange tip but if you have a short attention span or Attention Deficit Disorder (I think I suffer from this a lot!), then you’ll want to take this tip to heart. Everyone shares likes, dislikes, dreams, struggles, etc., in conversation and even while griping. For example, a friend might mention she enjoys going out to see a movie or likes a particular restaurant but money’s been tight lately. A gift card to the theater or that restaurant would be perfect. A spouse who is complaining about how long it takes to prepare meals might mention how a certain appliance could cut meal prep time in half if only he/she had it. A spouse complaining about not being able to keep up with the house might enjoy a few months of maid service. But don’t always think in terms of practical gift giving. Something personal such as jewelry and clothing are always nice, as are items that help them further their dreams, goals or hobbies. Just listen and you’ll be amazed at what you learn.
  3. Make a list of your ideas and start looking for sales right away. Sales have changed. Prices are often times lower before or after Black Friday rather than on Black Friday itself. If you start pricing items early, you’ll know when you’ve come across a bargain. And wouldn’t that be a great feeling? Be sure to check the Internet for pricing also. If you find an item on the Internet cheaper than a local store, try asking at the store if they’ll match the Internet price. (You’ll need a print out of the item and price with the current day’s date. Items usually need to be an exact match.) Then purchase the item!! Enjoy buying when the shelves are stocked, the stores aren’t crazy busy and the lines are not a block long.

For the person who has everything, I’m putting in a plug for my services as a perfect gift idea. Family photos are your story. And scanning your photos to disc is saving your family history and story forever. Who doesn’t enjoy viewing photos of themselves, their loved ones and their ancestors? A CD/DVD takes up very little space, is portable and can be enjoyed over and over for years to come. So think about giving the gift of laughter, memories and love! Every time the photos are viewed they’ll think of the person that gave it to them. That person can be YOU. Check out the Christmas in October specials! And for a perfect stocking stuffer for people of all ages, check out this nifty little item, the Picture Keeper.

Family photos on DVD
Family photos on DVD beautifully gift-wrapped