Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Archiving question

I have a question. A serious question. This isn't one of those questions you ask because you're thinking out loud through your blog. I really want your help! I need your help!!! I've started a project. I'm archiving my old photos (birth until I'm married) and I've come to a big decision.

Here's the history. If you don't feel like reading it, skip down to the big questions below.

I recently realized that my old albums had been water damaged when our basement flooded. The photos held up pretty well (with a few exception), but I need to put them somewhere else. A lot of these photos were of me from my infancy through my teenage years. My mom had made me a large album using those magnetic pages (before we knew about scrapbooking). They were yellowing and becoming less sticky anyway. I was planning to redo them soon, but it's become a priority now.

I need to completely redo over 20 years worth of pictures. They're all film photos (of varying sizes) and not all the best. My first thought was to use a combination of divided page protectors in varying sizes to put the photos in with a bit of patterned paper and journaling. I would mix and match the sizes depending on the photos used and also leave the option open to scrapbook any really important moments or where there's a more detailed story to be told.

I don't want to overdo the scrapbooking. I'm going to go for a simple and elegant look (as well as less time-consuming). I also wanted to include some journaling about my memories ... instead of just photos and dates.

I was all ready to do it. I had got the supplies and then I read that you should never use your original photos when doing a project like this. I see the logic of that. You don't want to work with your only copy.
They suggested scanning them in. I do have one of those printer/scanner/fax machines that is 6 years old and only $100 when we bought it. It's obviously not the best. I've scanned some things in before and been less than impressed with the quality. So, using my scanned images isn't that appealing.
My local Walmart has a photo station where you can scan and copy photos at a kiosk, but I've also been less than impressed with the way that works.
Another problem is that we're talking about hundreds of photos here. I was not happy with the prospect of scanning them all in at home, let alone standing for hours in front of a kiosk.

But, I buckled down and spent hours scanning in photos. I'm missing a few that other family members have. As you can see, they are not ideal:

They're also a pretty lousy resolution - no bigger than 1,000 pixels the longest way.

I've had the suggestion to take pictures of my pictures. I've tried that and there's always a glare from the flash or the overhead light or even the sunlight. It just hasn't worked.

I want to use the originals because they are so much better. But, as you can see from these,
there's some water damage. Even though it's not visible on most of them, they smell and the back of some the photo paper is turning yellow. I am concerned about future degradation.

So ... what do you think? Is there a product (like archival mist) that would stop to the decay of my photos so I can use them? Should I use the lousy scans? How would you go about this?

I really want to know!


Helen Tilbury said...

Hi Jess,
Personally I ALWAYS use original photos. Otherwise what to do with THEM. I wouldn't worry about the water damage. It all adds to the character & is certainly not bad, as your photos show. You could always add an embellishment over the area! As for the archival mist - you do get it but in South Africa it is hellishly expensive, so I won't pay for it. I laminate anything that I want to add to my albums that is full of acid/lignen (like newspaper clippings) but another way of avoiding acid contamination is simply to mount your photos on cardstodk (a bit bigger than the photo) which contains the spread. I doubt any more damage will occur as the damage is from the flood, not acid. What I would also do is wipe the back of the photo with a rag dipped in benzine. I do this all the time with no problem, as it should remove any sticky residue & is way cheaper than dedicated scrapping products. Another product I SWEAR by is GLUE UNDO - it's the best & if you are worried about using benzine then Glue undo is a lot cheaper than archival mist. Hope my take on things helps you. BTW with regard to your comment on my blog - worldwide (1st world) printing your own photos is definitely not more economical but in South Africa (bad economy) if you can find a good paper that is not a major brand like HP or cANON then it works out so much cheaper. Think I am just lucky to have found the perfect paper at a rally cheap price (it was a hidden treasure til I blabbed about it on my blog,lol!) Happy Scrapping ;-)

Helen Tilbury said...

Forgot to say - photographing photos never works - been there,done that...Canon have a new scanner out (new in SA anyway - probably been around in US for a while,lol!) that is perfect for high resolution colour scanning. It retails here for US$130 so is not much more than what you paid for yours ages ago. It is ONLY a scanner, not a fax or photocopier aswell. I am getting one for my birthday soon, can't going to use it to scan my layouts then 'stitch" each side together (as it is only A4) & my layouts are mostly 12inches square - to post to my blog & e mail for DT's submissions as I am currently photographing my layouts & find it very hard to get the perfect lighting conditions & always have camera shake!

laura vegas said...

i'm certainly no expert on this. but you mentioned maybe using the divided page protectors for this project ... which i think is a brilliant idea. so easy to do when you're talking about hundreds of photos. and adding in bit and pieces of pattern paper or journaling still adds a little "scrapping" touch.

so i would say use the originals. if you use the divided page protectors that hold 4x6 photos ... then you really wouldn't need to actually cut photos if you didn't want too. if a photo is smaller than 4x6 ... adhere it to cardstock or something before sticking in the slot. you're never going to get anything better than the original i think. scans aren't great ... and photos never work. and any water damage just adds character.