The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Preserving Your Treasures
Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This holiday season, I hope to inspire you to take a trip down memory lane to the land of erstwhile and bygone days of the family photo album. What better time to pull these one of a kind treasures off the shelves than during the family festivities! Recently over the Thanksgiving holiday, I rediscovered my own family’s quasi-prehistoric, long-forgotten photo albums. As I flipped through the pages looking at photos of my mom, tan and beautiful on a beach somewhere before I was born, or at my younger sisters giggling at birthday parties, and awkward middle school outfits and family photos, I thought what a great gift it would be to share this album with my siblings. If only my parents had used a digital camera- then I could just click and share! So simple, right?
And yet, even though with the ability to share my digital photos so easily, they are scattered throughout the internet, on computers, phones, flash drives, and attached in emails. Not to mention the preservation issues with digital images. Perhaps this is why it is refreshing to view these unique hand held albums of carefully chosen and collected photographs that tell a story in a cohesive pattern.
So, this holiday season, if you too have the urge to dust off those family photo albums and share them digitally with your loved ones, then this post is for you! Or better yet, digitize them, and then create a physical copy to give as a holiday gift, just like the original. You could even supplement the facsimile with your new digital photos to add to the legacy! To help you, my colleagues and I have assembled some useful tips on how to digitize your family/travel photo album or family book (or even your grandmother’s handwritten cookbook) and make a physical facsimile:
- Here is our recent answer with links on how to digitize your family photo album or historic book and create a physical facsimile, from our Collections Care Forum.
- The New York Times also answered some questions about how to scan your photographs and photo album in this helpful Q & A session.
- May I also suggest you take the opportunity of viewing the full-length television program Jefferson’s Secret Bible while it is still available for viewing on the Smithsonian Channel. Your object may not be as technically complex, but it is still a fascinating story and instructive opportunity on creating a physical facsimile.
- The National Archives: Preserving and digitizing photo collections
- The Library of Congress: Preserving your Memories: Traditional albums and scrapbooks
- And don’t forget to check out my colleagues excellent posts on preserving your photo album prior to any digitization and Archiving Family Traditions!
Happy holidays and happy digitizing!
- Digitization, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Scantastic: Scanning Archival images to make them more useful, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
Digital photography has made it much easier to capture special moments in our lives. Folks who carry camera phones can always be ready to point and shoot everything from an impromptu family football game to a carefully staged portrait of folks in matching sweaters. There is no longer the need to worry about having only two shots left on a roll of film during the school play or coming back from the drive-through Fotomat or drugstore with fuzzy prints. The holidays provide great opportunities for lots of picture taking. As the season is winding down, now can be the perfect time to organize recent digital images you’ve made, while events and memories are still fresh in your mind.
- Make the time. Set aside an afternoon or evening to focus on your digital images.
- Transfer them to your computer from your phone or digital memory card. Quite often you only need to connect your camera to your computer to conduct a step-by-step transfer to it. There also are a variety of image software programs to do this on a PC or Mac. These programs can manage your images by date, location, or name, and provide editing functionality such as sharpening, cropping, and red-eye removal.
- Be aggressive about deleting bad images. Delete blurred, duplicate, or unwanted photos. This can be done on the camera before you transfer pictures to the computer or after. If you do this on the camera, you don’t have to worry about the need to delete an image twice.
- File names. Photos usually import into computers with a string of letters and numbers that is part of the camera’s default naming standard such as DSCN0070.JPG and provide no description about the images themselves. Some newer cameras do allow you to set some of the naming formats. Consider renaming the set of images to something more meaningful. Some options include the date, the name of the person or event or some combination of all of them. I recommend at least including the date in some manner. 122010_1.jpg 122010_2.jpg Max122010_1.jpg Max122010_2.jpg NewYears122010_1.jpg NewYears122010_2.jpg Another option is to group the images into named folders within the 'My Pictures' folder on the computer or within the image management program. In some instances you can use batch processes to name the files and/or folders. Be consistent once you adopt a naming standard.
- Metadata (data about data). Some programs also provide the option to add keywords and other information about an image. Facial recognition is another feature with some packages that allow you to assign the name to a person and the program will match up other photos of that person in your files (it is not perfect and will select other people in some instances). This additional data can make searching easier.
- Multiple copies. Even if you do not plan to print out your images, you can store copies with an online photo sharing service and share them with others.
- Print out the best ones. I still believe in printed images, and there are a number of physical stores or online photo printing companies that will create prints
- Backup. Don’t rely only on the images stored on your computer or device. While you may have the images on a photo sharing site mentioned above, also keep copies on CDs, external hard drives, or thumbdrives. And don’t forget about these backups either as you change hardware and software. Investing a little time now to organize this year’s holiday memories will pay off in the future.
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