Earlier this year, my friend Val started posting photos her dad had taken to a Facebook album. They were obviously decades old, but they were pristine. These weren’t scans of tattered, faded, off-color prints found in a box in the basement, they were scanned from the slide film her dad shot. A couple years ago, my mother-in-law passed away, and my brother-in-law took on the job of scanning the best photos from a big chest of old pictures and sharing them with the family via Dropbox. All this makes me wonder what will happen as most or all of our family photos become electronic, not physical.
Val tells about the big job of sorting and sharing her dad’s pictures. If anyone has taken on a similar challenge, or has a long-term plan for passing on their family photos, feel free to share favorite photos, thoughts, or suggestions in the comments.
V.C.: In September of 2014, my Dad – Bill Coit – passed away from Lewy Body Dementia. Immediately after, my family came together at my parents’ home in Lamoure, ND and within hours we were looking at old pictures. This wasn’t unusual as we’ve always enjoyed looking at my father’s pics of our family. But this time, it was different. In addition to helping us remember happier times, we were looking more closely at his beautiful nature photos and the shots he took of the dairy farm where he spent most of his life.
My Dad was a lifelong hobby photographer and his love of cameras is the reason that I’m a photographer now. I come from a family of six kids and all of us have an interest in photography, with two of us (me included) doing it professionally. Over the years, we all admired Bill’s skills and as a 4-H leader he shared his love of the craft by teaching us, as well as many other local kids, how to take good pictures.
I contemplated a variety of scanning options, and ultimately decided any equipment I could buy would not measure up to the quality of a professional scanning service. So, I gave First Photo in Duluth about 1,000 slides to scan. We provided them in a few separate batches in slide sorter sheets that were organized by year to maintain a logical order. Within a few weeks, they returned the slides and scans and it was worth every penny. It’s amazing how great many of them look even though some were shot more than 60 years ago.
So far, I’ve shared all the scans with relatives via Google Drive and Shutterfly. We also had DVDs created for our older relatives that don’t use computers so they could see the photos and easily show them to visitors. I haven’t done much tagging to make searching easier, but am exploring that option via Google Photos.
The next step for me is to create some photo books. I like Shutterfly due to all the customization options and am planning a series of books. My Mom plans to help in order to provide captions and identify everyone in the photos. Once we’re done, I’m hoping many of our relatives will order copies so we can all continue to appreciate and remember my Dad. I only wish we had taken the time to do this while he was still here. He took great delight in capturing so many beautiful moments on film and I’m sure he’d be pleased to know how much we all appreciate it and how meaningful his extensive collection has become for everyone in our family.
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