It’s never been easier to take photos and save them or share them with family and friends, but many of us have photos that we never got to print.
Many of us have older photos stuck in drawers or boxes that we don’t really know what to do with, and if you don’t care about them, they won’t last forever.
David Morgan started organizing his family photos a few years ago.
“It really started when my dad passed away just because we were trying to put his obituary together. Now I’m trying to really organize things by year and by name,” Morgan said.
It might seem overwhelming at first, but Consumer Reports’ Jerry Beilinson said you might just want to dive in and get to work.
“Start with what you think is most important. Find the photos and documents that will really mean something to you and others years from now,” Beilinson said.
It’s important to label everything, but do it lightly with a soft pencil. Add all the details you know to the back edges of the photos, including names, dates, and locations.
You can also interview the oldest person in your family to help you fill in the blanks and understand the stories behind the photos.
Restore all the photos you can with photo software. Morgan used Photoshop on her parents’ 1969 prom photo to improve its appearance and remove lines and damage.
“I really like this photo because my mom was really proud of this dress,” Morgan said.
There are other ways to protect your photos to make them last longer. Beilinson said “use acid-free materials when storing your photos and documents. This will really help them not to degrade over time.
You should also protect your items from bright or direct light and keep them at a comfortable, consistent temperature and avoid humidity.
Don’t store pictures in your attic or basement and clean them with a soft brush or lint-free cloth.
You can also make digital copies of the originals using a scanner or even your smartphone and then store those files in a few safe places like your computer, an external hard drive, or the cloud.
Morgan plans to stick to it to preserve his family memories.
“I plan to proofread more photos, print more photos with written recipes, stories and anecdotes,” Morgan said.
Many of us save photos on our phone or computer, but it’s a good idea to print some out once in a while. You’ll be happy to have hard copies of your favorites in case something happens to your digital copies.