Sunday, September 29, 2013

10 Tips for Storing and Organizing Your Photos

NER 0002 ~ Robert O. Myers with Asa Myers about 1920.
(Author's fraternal uncle and grandfather respectively.)
When writing historical books, memoirs or a story from your family's past, it's always a good idea to include photos. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this is especially true with personal stories and history.
We've created this guide for the sorting and organizing of photos especially geared towards book use, but many of the tips are useful for general photo storage.
1. Gather your originals. Collect all your photos in one spot from the far corners of the house, historical societies, family and others. This will give you an idea of the size task facing you.
2. Set aside time. Thinking of doing everything at once? You may want to reconsider and break the task up. It may be a good idea to set aside an hour or two a week to avoid getting overwhelmed.
3. Chose a storage method. Whether in boxes or binders, make sure to use photo-safe materials. Make sure the photos are kept away from the air and finger oils, especially the older photos.
NER 0004 ~ Author at 9 months
of agewith mother 1954.
4. Decide what to keep. While a random vista you took on vacation my seem important, will it have the same meaning in twenty years. Keep photos with sentimental value or of important people in your story.
5. Go digital. When possible, scan your photos to keep an electronic copy. Create a remote back up of the photos either on another hard drive or in the cloud.
6. Chose a method of sorting. However you decide to sort, they need to be organized logically for you. Either places, years or people and go from there. This can also influence your directory system for digital storage.
7. Name your photos. When storing your photos for general use, you probably want to name the photos related to the contents. However, when setting photos aside for your book, you want to use a simpler system. Use your initials or initials of your book and label them numerically.  Label with sticky notes on the backs of originals using a naming convention such as NER 0001, NER 0002, NER 0003. The letters NER are my initials. You should use your own. The reason for beginning with 0001 is that when the photos are scanned into the computer or original digital photos are placed in a folder/directory, the photos will stay in order that you have placed them. When you need to add a photo to the sequence use an increment such as NER 0001A, NER 0001B. If you need to add photos, you can easily add A, B, etc to keep them in order. Note: when typing up your captions, label them with the same numbers.
NER 0001 ~ Author's fraternal
Maude Ellen Myers
8. Write captions for every photo. Before you sort your photos, write an important captions for the people and places shown. Include not just the names, but an anecdote or reason it's important. Each caption should tell a real story, not just be a label. People do not know your story. Tell the story behind the picture. Answer the question, "It is Aunt Betty Jo: so what or who cares?" The answer may be, "Aunt Betty Jo lived with my family when I was an infant and cared for me while my mother attended college, took care of the other children or worked at a job outside the home. Aunt Betty Jo went on to become a well-known author about child rearing. As a screaming colicky baby, I taught her everything she knew." The captions should use the same naming convention of NER 0001 so that the photos and caption maybe put together easily.
9. Copy photos for your book. When setting up your book photos, copy them to a different directory so you can organize, delete and rename without risk to the originals.
NER 0003 ~ Asa & Maude Ellen Myers 1940s.

10. Plan where to store your photos. Photos are susceptible to the elements. Don't store them in attics or basements where they may be exposed to damp air and temperature swings.
When you are finished with your project, consider making it into a slideshow. If this is a family project--make copies for your family.  If it is a book project, you'll love to be able to use the slideshow in a presentation.  Put all photos in the presentation and then customize it when you commit to present to a particular group.

Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books, a publishing business with the tag line: Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk project--building a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly:

1 comment:

Ruby said...

Seconding the cloud option. Physical and external hard drives aren't enough, since they're pretty much limited. Hard drives are also constrained by other stresses, such as weather and abrasion & all that. We can only rely much on the amorphousness of cloud technology, which is, by its nature, persistent.