1,500,000 words and no where to keep them
May 4, 2009 1:24 AM   Subscribe

My dad has many boxes of the photographs he took during college 30 years ago. After completing my freshman year, I have equally as many digital pictures saved on my computer. While I would love to make 1500 prints, that isn't very plausible. What's the best way to preserve these pictures and make them easily accessible and viewable in the future? (I might be able to choose 200 or so to make the most accessible and viewable.)
posted by i_am_a_fiesta to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Keep them digital? You can upload them to a photosharing site like Flickr and they'll be very easily accessible - Flickr even lets you upload the full resolution. It's well worth the $25 a year for a pro account. And if you're concerned about privacy, you can make them all as viewable only by you.
posted by awesomebrad at 1:33 AM on May 4, 2009

My sister is big into scrapbooking, where one artisticly assembles a "book of your life" with pictures, words, and added visual elements into a super deluxe photo album. She did one for my 40th bday and it's so nice.
posted by mrt at 1:35 AM on May 4, 2009

Best answer: My daughter recently brought back over 1500 digital images from a trip to Africa. She wanted prints. We went to Costco and ended up with a price of 4p per print (we're in the UK). They had a special rate of 4p per print for over 500 prints at once. Worth a look, at least?
posted by JtJ at 1:49 AM on May 4, 2009

While I would love to make 1500 prints, that isn't very plausible.

It's plenty plausible, but probably not feasible.

posted by wfrgms at 3:52 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: make a Blurb book. they offer personalized layouts, really good quality and aren't that expensive. i made one for my parents with pictures from a trip they took in the 70s and they loved it.

posted by nanhey at 5:07 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get them scanned into digital copies, and then make lots and lots of copies and spread them around. Don't get hung up on the number of files and limit yourself to 200. DVDs are cheap.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:23 AM on May 4, 2009

Cull through them and pick the best of the best to make prints from. The odds are that that group will be less than 100. You probably could thematically arrange pics for printing to create a nicely bound portfolio.
posted by JJ86 at 5:57 AM on May 4, 2009

Here are product reviews of the top ten online photo sharing sites.
posted by netbros at 6:01 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You haven't specified what file format your digital images are in. If you have RAW files and want the full color depth of the image to be preserved, consider converting them to the Digital Negative (DNG) format alongside plain old JPGs.

As for backing these things up for 30 years, there's no (affordable) digital media that will last that long with confidence (both in terms of integrity as well as hardware connectivity). The best advice I've heard is to make new backups every year in whatever cheap, standard media is around at the time. Multiple copies and multiple storage locations. Ordinary online photo services (especially free) aren't likely to give a 30-year guarantee, so the best bet is just to babysit the files that are important to you on physical media.
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:34 AM on May 4, 2009

Best answer: Really, you want to cover all your bases here if you are concerned about both longevity and accessibility.

For digital storage, I recommend getting a photo resolution scanner and hosting JPEG versions of them in the cloud (via Flicker or alternative service) and TIFF versions on a 1TB external hard drive kept in a media fire safe. Then, as cowbellemoo says, you'll need to upgrade your storage media every couple of years as technology changes.

I would then take a closer look at getting cheap paper prints made from the JPEGs. If you had Walmart, for example, print them in 4x6, the cost per print would be $.09 USD.

Store the paper photos somewhere other than your home (or the digital media).
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:58 AM on May 4, 2009

Back up your photos!! You didn't take 1500 pictures just to have them wiped out by a virus or a failed hard drive. Burn them to a couple of DVDs and store them off-site. Have your folks hold onto one copy, you hang on to another. Make sure they're stored so that dust and heat don't ruin them.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 7:20 AM on May 4, 2009

Yes, backup your photos. Remember - Flickr isn't backup! It might seem like it's been here for ever, but it's survival depends both on Flickr and Yahoo. Other photo sites have disappeared before.

I think that prints are a good way to go because they will prompt you to edit and make a narrative out of what photos you do have. Also, I still think it's nice to hand around albums.

Prints are real cheap these days, even if you want white borders etc.
posted by carter at 7:49 AM on May 4, 2009

I am doing several things, but there is no 'best' single solution right now IMHO.

I am slowly digitizing everything from the past and have encouraged the extended family to loan me images so I can scan them.

For backups - I have two hard drives; one is at home and one is in my office (two separate locations is the point.) About once a month I update the drive in my office and bring it back in. Not ideal, but my goal is to have a second copy handy; this second drive literally sites in a file drawer and is not used. At the cost of drives these days, I plan to replace both drives every two years.

Second, I have a Google Picassa Web account; 10 gbs is 20 bucks a year. I then have albums which are share with the family and they can make prints, view, etc. I have an ethics issue with Flickr, wish I didn't since their community tools are great but the PIcassa web is getting better.

Third, I have come to love Adobe Lightroom. I use metadata for a great deal of my images, Lightroom makes this easy, along with editing of photos without the full-frontal agony of Photoshop. The other thing Lightroom allows is to have a thumbnail of the image even though the high-res is not available (offline, archived, etc.) This works out well since my entire image set is too large for my laptop. This product has helped my productivity.

Lastly, I would consider using JP2000 except it is hardly used - e.g. can't be read by Lightroom and Photoshop does not install the plug-in automatically. A great format for preserving data but not widely used. So stick with TIFF over jpg for the long haul...
posted by fluffycreature at 10:03 AM on May 4, 2009

1500 photos? What a lightweight!

I have about 8000 photos (1000 of my dog, the other 7000 of the kids), and managing them is a huge issue.

I do the following. Every two weeks I cull out the five or ten best (from those two weeks) and post them on a blog. That way the grandparents and cousins and spinster aunts can enjoy the activities of the kids (and dog). Then, every year I make a hardcopy by using blurb.com (as mentioned above by nanhey). The blurb web site has some tools that let you easily make a book out of a blog, and you can also edit the pages and photos to create the perfect layout.

This gives me a permanent (well, 100+ year) storage method for my photos, and also it solves all my Christmas gift-giving problems. Photo books for everyone!

I used to just print out my digital photos, but then I end up sticking them into a shoebox. Having a photobook (via blurb or any of the many other web sites) is a wonderful way to store and display your photos. It looks just like a "regular" coffee-table book, but it's all about you!

Finally, the blog (and photobook) are a good way to backup your valuable and favorite photos in case something were to happen to your home computer. Basically, my photos are backed up twice; once on the blog site, and again on the blurb site.
posted by math at 6:05 PM on May 4, 2009

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