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Out of the Shoebox: 5 Steps to Preserving AND Enjoying Family Photos
By Ancestry.com.au 19 April 2010


Shoebox or album? Most of us are guilty of putting our family’s most treasured heirlooms – photographs – in one or the other. But did you realise that you may be shortening the life of those photos by storing them that way? The following guidelines will help ensure your family’s photographic history remains intact for tomorrow.

Do not touch: Hold all snapshots, old and new, by their edges and only with clean, dry hands. Better still, invest in a few pair of non-latex examination gloves (your local pharmacy can help you).

Create a digital: For recent photos that are in good shape but not digitized, use a flat-bed scanner to make a copy or pick up your digital camera and zoom in to make a high quality photo. Try various settings to see which gets you the best copied image. With photo albums, it’s often best to scan full pages one at a time. You’ll reduce the risk of tearing a photo and preserve the original presentation of the person who put the photo album together.

Store properly: Once you’ve made a copy, visit a local office supply shop or scrapbook store for acid-free and lignin-free boxes and folders and for protective sleeves and labeling tools that will help you organise photos and will help protect prints properly. Get key storage details to ensure you’re taking the best care possible of those old photos through these preservation tips from the American Museum of Photography.

Upload the copies: Use your Ancestry.com.au family tree to store the digital copies of your family photos (you can also attach the photos to people in your tree). Whether it’s a scanned image of an old family photo of a digital file of a new one, you can follow these steps to get images into your family tree today.

  1. From your Ancestry.com.au family tree, choose the individual you want to attach a photo to and select View Profile.
  2. Select Upload Photos from the Media Gallery.
  3. Click Browse to find photos stored on your computer that you’d like to upload. Can’t remember where on your computer you stored the photo you’re looking for? Most software selects My Pictures as the default location (in the My Documents folder).
  4. Upon completion of the download, you’ll have the option to enter additional information about the photo (description, title, date, etc.) as well as add the photo to other people in your family tree.

Don’t forget to store additional copies on DVDs and keep a back-up copy on your hard-drive.

Create something great: Use your digital copies to create a photo book or a family history book that lets you show off all of those great snapshots. Add captions, stories, and family history information. Most photo-storage sites let you publish photo books from the images you’ve uploaded to them.

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