Every family possesses a treasure trove of precious photographs and cherished home movies.
These are more than just simple records of life events. They’re nostalgic artifacts that narrate compelling stories of love, joy, and growth. However, preserving these invaluable mementos can be challenging due to aging, poor storage methods, and deterioration over time.
In this article, we’re going to explore creative and beautiful ways to protect, organize, and relive those irreplaceable memories. We’ll also give you some tips on how to preserve your media.
Create Photo Albums and Books
Photo albums and photo books are some of the best ways to preserve family photographs, but it depends on how delicate the photos are. If they can’t be handled without falling apart, we recommend using an archival-quality box, index labels, and a No. 2 pencil for preservation.
However, if your originals are well-preserved (or you digitize them and print copies off), you can start placing them inside a photo album. Use one made of leather or plastic for longevity.
Alternatively, you could create a photo book online using templates and send one to your home. Use these photo book design ideas to help you choose the best one for you and your family. Consider including recipes, artifacts, heirlooms, clothing, and written notes in your albums.
Tips on How to Preserve Old Photos
- When storing photographs, be sure to store them in cool, dry areas. Damp conditions could attract insects, encourage mold growth, or make them unviewable.
- Don’t touch the surface of the prints, or use gloves to avoid transferring fingerprints. It’s recommended to use prints of old photos if you’re gluing or taping them to something.
- Photographs of the same type can be placed together in small groups, like folders or envelopes. Store individual photos vertically (if small) and inside plastic sleeves.
- Don’t write directly on the photograph. Instead, write beside the photo (if in an album) or on the photo enclosure. A pencil is fine, but it can fade on most photographs.
- Digitizing your photographs is the best way to preserve them for a long time. However, keeping physical copies is important in case a hard drive or backup gets erased.
Store Film Reels in Custom Boxes
Film reels are one of the oldest ways to store sound and video media. While they can be delicate, they’re convenient because you don’t need electricity (in most cases) to watch films. You could even use a magnifying glass to “watch” the movie if you’re okay looking at the stills.
If you have plenty of film reels, you could get custom-made casings that are color-coded. For example, red could represent family gatherings, or yellow could indicate a family member.
Then, you can place these casings inside a box that’s decorated. These could also be color-coded, but there’s no harm in going wild! As long as they’re labeled, you shouldn’t have a problem finding the movie you need. With that said, the box needs to be protective.
Tips on How to Preserve Film Reels
- Film reels should be kept in a place with consistent low temperatures and humidity.
- Store reels in refrigerators or freezers, but don’t keep food inside the same freezer.
- If you store films in reels or cans, remove tape or rubber bands as they decompose.
- Use acid-free paper to write labels. Ideally, place labels on the box the film is stored in.
- Handle film by the edges and avoid touching its flat surfaces to keep dirt at bay.
- Inspect the film for tears or breaks. If you see any, consider digitizing the media.
Store Videos and CDs in Custom Cases
Home videos and CDs are more modern ways to preserve media. Betamax and VHS frequently used paper or plastic cases, whereas optical media (including LaserDisc, CED, DVD-Video, DualDisc, HD DVD, and Blu-ray) preferred plastic. Use plastic for both videos and CDs.
Since you’ll be using plastic for VHS, it’s recommended to find a shop that can print directly on your custom cases. This gives you more wiggle room to create exactly what you want.
As for CDs, it’s really common for CD cases to come with inserts. If they don’t, you can use tools like Canva to design your own. Make sure your VHSs and CDs are clearly labeled so you know the contents inside when they’re stored vertically. Put them in a box for easy transport.
Tips on How to Preserve Videos and CDs
- Videos and CDs should be stored in a place with stable low temperature and humidity.
- Both media should be protected from flooding, sunlight, and air pollutants.
- Videotapes should be stored vertically in boxes and never stacked on top of each other.
- Magnetic tapes should be kept away from electromagnetic fields (i.e., magnets).
- Store optical media vertically in plastic cases and away from any UV light.
- Don’t use adhesive labels or solvent-based permanent markers on discs.
Digitize Old Films and Photos
The process of digitizing media is different depending on what you’re digitizing, but the end result is that it’s preserved on your computer. Once it’s there, you can do all sorts of things with it. For example, you could use a graphics program to make a collage for your family.
One of the best things about digitizing your media is that you can share it easily. Plus, you can post it online, whether you place your photos or videos on Google Drive or Facebook.
To make sure your digital content stays preserved, back it up. SD cards are the newest and most widely available way to store media off the computer. Be sure to upgrade to a different format when SD cards become obsolete to ensure you’ll have an easy way to view your media.
Tips for How to Digitize Old Films and Photos
- It’s better to consult an expert when digitizing film reels. While film scanners are easy to use by people who’ve operated reels in the past, a novice could damage their reels.
- Use VHS-to-digital software for converting videos. You’ll often need a video-capturing device and RCA cables. Be careful when inserting the tape into the device.
- As long as your computer has a floppy or CD drive, you can simply insert the media inside, and you’ll convert it to digital media. Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase a drive.
- Most scanners will be able to digitize old photographs without losing any quality. However, it’s recommended to edit your photos before preserving them in a file folder.
- A smartphone camera is often good enough to quickly digitize your photos.
As we conclude this journey of preserving family treasures, we hope you’ve been inspired to start your archival project. Remember that photos and films are tangible reminders of who we are and where we come from. They hold the key to our past and bridge it with our future.
So, invest some time today in these preservation tips that will extend the life of your cherished mementos. They’re more than worth it. Your future self, and even generations to come, will thank you for making sure those priceless moments remain intact and vivid long into the future.