How would you feel if you lost all of your most precious photos? For most, it’s devastated. Unfortunately, most of us do not know where to begin when it comes to the best way to store photos, let alone safeguard them from natural disasters. The key is getting them consolidated, organized, and backed up.
With the fires, hurricanes, floods, and global panic in the news recently, it has been moving to see what people value most. Family and pets are, of course, the number one concern — the second, memories.
To prevent the traumatic loss of your precious photos and the memories that go with them, it’s important to protect and preserve your photo collection before disaster strikes. Here’s how to store photos & safeguard them from natural disasters:
STEP 1. ORGANIZE YOUR PRINTED PHOTOS
.1 – First, gather your printed photos to one central workspace. This could include photos in boxes, frames, or albums. The only way to effectively organize old photos is to have the full collection in one location to start.
2 – Toss the doubles and duds. Downsizing your collection of photos to only the most special is a crucial step that most people avoid altogether. As a result of purging doubles and dud photos, organizing your photos will be far simpler. Check out this post of 15 things to let go of now: Photo Edition.
QUICK TIP: If you feel overwhelmed at this stage, start by picking out your favorites. Choose the photos that you couldn’t bear to lose — the ones that tell a story, highlight a milestone or family tradition.
For a detailed, step-by-step guide to organizing your printed photos check out this post by Simply Spaced.
STEP 2. ORGANIZE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS
1 – Consolidate your digital photo libraries. Because most of us have digital photos scattered about our devices, it’s important to collect all your hard drives, phones, camera cards, and CDs. Then, consolidate them onto one device.
Many people unknowingly have duplicate photo libraries on their computers. So, the first step to organizing your digital photos is always to find one digital photo manager and stick with it! If you’re at a loss, we use iPhoto and Google Photos with many of our clients.
2 – Delete the extras. Start by putting the most important photos into a favorites file or album. Make sure to delete as many of the duplicates as you have time for. Since thousands of duplicate photos can overwhelm your storage space, one key strategy for storing digital photos is to downsize your photos regularly.
If downsizing your digital photo library seems like an endless task, try giving the project just 30 minutes a day for 1 week. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish!
For disaster preparedness, we can start with these printed and digital favorites. Remember, it’s better to get started than to postpone the project because it feels too overwhelming!
STEP 3. BACKUP BOTH COLLECTIONS
.1 – Digitize your printed photos as back-up insurance. Scan your photos yourself with an at-home printer or hire a local company to digitize them. Then, add your scanned images to your most important digital photos file from Step 2. Now you have all of your most important photo memories in one place! Bravo!
2 – Designate 3 locations for your digital photos for extra security. Since backups will save you in a fire, having them in 3 locations is recommended for ideal back-up. Here are my recommendations:
- Put them on an external hard drive
- Upload them to the cloud storage of your choice.
- Put a copy on a flash drive or small external hard drive in a fireproof safe or off-site location.
3 – Next, create a physical photo library of favorites. Believe it or not, your printed photos are also your best back-up. Technology quickly becomes obsolete. Printing your digital favorites file as a back-up and another way to access your photo memories. Archival quality storage boxes are the best way to store photos and preserve your collection over time.
As a result, your photo disaster preparedness project will bring you peace of mind AND will bring your photos back into your life, to enjoy, share, and preserve!
Nancy McFarland is a certified Personal Photo Organizer through APPO-the Association of Personal Photo Organizers; Home Movie certified through Pro 8 Millimeter and is a NAPO Golden Circle member. Nancy began her photo preservation business in 1995 before the explosion of digital photography. She has helped hundreds of clients preserve their printed photo collections with workshops in photo preservation, photo organizing, recording family history, and custom album making.