There can come a point in our lives when we have too many photos. Life flies by and before we know it, we are in a situation where downsizing is essential for any number of reasons. Mainly the children fleeing the nest.
The bigger your family, and the distance between you all, the more photos you will likely have.
Photos of grandchildren sent from overseas or digital files sent via Messenger, Skype or any messaging app your family use to stay in contact. With the ease of at-home printing, the collections aren’t long in accumulating.
Add to your current collection of photos, the albums from bygone times are a lot to go through when you do need to downsize.
How to Downsize (and Salvage) Old Photo Archives
If you have storage boxes filled with family photos, postcards, annual school photos of children and grandchildren growing up, holiday snaps, and family celebrations… you will have a lot to work with.
Some of the prints may show signs of yellowing. If that’s the case, the degradation is likely because of the materials used in the album. It happens when prints are stored without acid-free sleeves in albums.
Decades back, the standard albums had cardboard backs with a clear plastic film for the photos to be sandwiched between them. If you are finding photos stored in albums that are showing signs of deterioration, it’s a good idea to renew the photo album to something that’s acid-free.
That includes the plastic covers, backing board, and whatever’s used to attach the photo to the card.
Sellotape used to be used a lot. That is acidic and will damage photos. Acid-free tapes or even photo corners offer better protection against photodegradation inside photo albums.
When you are more likely to experience these types of storage problems is on family albums that have been passed down from another generation.
How to Organise Historic Photos from Old Albums
If you are working with photos that have been passed down to you, check the back of the prints. It used to be common practice to date the pictures and write a note about what it is. Like, Ben and Sarah’s wedding, (date) outside [name] church. The modern version of those are filenames on digital files. Notes written on the back of prints can help you put them in order, then use that logical order to display them either in a collage photo frame or as a gallery wall.
For print photos you want to frame and keep, set them to one side. Make another pile of photos to put into a digital archive, like a photo CD or DVD, or scan and upload to cloud storage, or even put them onto an external hard drive that plugs into your laptop, notebook, or PC.
Decide on Storage or Display
When you downsize, you don’t need to decide on what to keep and what to throw. Everything can be kept and you don’t always need storage boxes or photo albums.
The warming photos that make you feel good when you look at them, but that aren’t of terrific quality, make digital copies by scanning them and then you will always have the digital copies to view on your phone, computer, or tablet.
The salvageable pictures with some discolouration, such as fading or yellowing, or even scratch marks over the surface of the print, use a photo restoration service to repair the damage done. You would be surprised what damage can be made vanish.
For the prints you do want to keep in albums, make sure all the components are acid-free materials to prevent any further deterioration to your prints while they are in storage.