If you are anything like us, years of treasured photographs are stuffed in drawers that are never opened for fear of an avalanche. Birthdays, anniversaries, family vacations and everyday moments are tucked away because conquering our disorganized mess seems impossible. However when a loved one dies, collecting, organizing and sharing photographs can be a cathartic activity. The Sociologist David Chidester calls these sorts of activities a “realignment processes” as they help make us feel normal again after the disorientation of death.
Where do you start collecting family photos, how do you organize them and what do you do with all the photos once you’ve collected them? We used to create photo albums to share with visitors who came to our homes, but now with family dispersed around the globe, is it time for a new way to share our memories?
Collecting Family Photos After a Death
How To Start Organizing
This is a process that takes time. It could take you an afternoon, it could take you several days. To make the process more enjoyable, why not make it a bonding activity and gather family members to help sort through the years of memories? Looking through photographs as a family will spark memories of the deceased, rekindle old stories and connect you with the person you are missing. If you’re searching for photographs as a particular person, have everyone put each photo into a pile. In the end this will make it easier to organize. Sorting can give you the opportunity to organize your entire photo collection at the same time.
Now that you’ve sorted through your photographs, it is time to organize them. Before organizing them into photo books, you should make a trip to your local pharmacy or camera store and have them scan your photos! They will put your memories onto a CD-ROM which can be put on your computer and uploaded online. Now that your photos have been scanned, how you organize your photographs will depend entirely on how you want to display them. Making small piles will make the process easier. Smaller photo albums are great if you want to organize by family vacations or events like anniversaries and birthdays. Large photo albums are great if you want to organize photographs chronologically, for example. The same process could be repeated with your digital files by created specific folders.
Organizational tip: If you’ve ever seen a photograph of your grandparents or parents you may have noticed that the back of the print had a ton of writing. Chances are you wouldn’t know the who, what, why and where without it! With a pencil in hand, try your best to mark the approximate date the photograph was taken, who is in the photograph and where it was taken. This is a genealogical gift you are giving to future generations.
Why you Should Digitize Your Memories
The point of having photographs is to capture life’s moments and build a visual story. We used to share these visual stories in photo books when people visited our homes. In fact, research conducted by Keeper Memorials in 2014 showed that most people still commemorated lost loved ones by looking at and sharing photographs. Today we might live in Ohio but have family buried in Oregon. In our global world, the ability to share material objects like photographs with each other is becoming increasingly difficult. A bigger problem is that prints and negatives degrade over time, and most will not last more than 100 years.
By digitizing your photographs, you are ensuring that your treasured memories can live on. In fact, digitizing your prints acts like insurance: if something were to happen to your actual photos, you can now print them out again. Once you’ve collected, sorted and scanned your prints, it’s time to put them somewhere. Online Memorial platforms like Keeper are a great place to upload your photographs because they are built to share. With Keeper Memorials you can not only upload your treasured memories but you can write a beautiful biography to share them with friends and family like you would an old photo album. Worried about prints falling apart or negatives fading? Want to share a photo album with your brother in Hawaii? With the click of a button family members and friends can be connected to a world of lasting memories. The best part is that with Keeper, your family members from around the world can digitize and upload their own photographs to your loved one’s memorial!
Tip and Tricks
-Digitizing your photographs is now easier than ever. You can buy your own scanner or scanner/printer combo. Many pharmacies and big box stores like Walmart offer photo scanning. This is cheap and easy option to ensure your treasured memories last a lifetime.
-Even if you digitize your photographs, you should still organize the material copies in a binder or photo album. That way you can share your memories online or share your memories in person!
-Download an app to your smartphone and scan photographs yourself! You can then transfer them to a computer or upload them directly.
-When buying a photo album, make sure the material is acid free. This will help preserve your prints for years to come.
-Be sure to mark on the back of each photograph the date it was taken, the ages of those in the photographs and the location where it was taken. You can always include this information in the filename for your digital photographs.
-Create a free, lasting and beautiful online memorial on Keeper and upload unlimited memories.