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Excerpted from Associated Press/Asheville Citizen Times

“Take a survey of your home, and consider all the spots where you have old photos….baby pictures in albums in the living room, vacation snaps in tattered envelopes tucked into a bookshelf, milestone moments in old frames, and older relatives’ fading photos in dusty boxes in the basement or attic.

They do take up a lot of space, and keep growing in numbers over the years.  When you want to organize them, you are doing yourself a favor, as well as the people who will inherit them from you.  (Stephanie Sisco, home editor for Real Simple magazine).

You can organize your photos and preserve your personal history either digitally, in photo-safe boxes, or both ways.  If you discard the originals after going digital, you’ll free up storage space around the house, which is always a good thing.

But…getting organized can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re staring down hundreds of thousands of loose, unorganized photos.  And reliving memories through photos can take a heavy toll, especially if you’re working on the project during an already emotional time like moving, helping a parent downsize, or dealing with an estate (or divorce).

“It’s one of the most challenging projects that people undertake in their organizational lives, because unless you’re starting from a really organized place, it’s difficult to even know where to begin,” Sisco says.

Prints are the most common photo item that people have – and have many of – in their homes.  You can spend an hour a day going through them, organizing the prints by decade, then narrowing them down further by year, or by person, or special event – like a wedding.  One of the hardest parts is throwing photos away, but do toss photos that are blurry, unflattering or duplicates.  And remember that over time, sunlight and humidity can cause photos to deteriorate.  In basements, photos can be damaged by flooding, humidity, mold and mildew.  In attics, heat and humidity can cause problems.  For these reasons, a digital archive is the best way to safely store photos and slides.  Having all images on a disc or thumb drive also makes it convenient to find and share images in person and online.

You can take photos on a thumb drive rather than carrying eight boxes filled with photo albums, and there’ less risk of damage to a small thumb drive than there is to photo albums or boxes of photos in your basement or attic.  Get a duplicate of the drive or disk and keep it somewhere secure, like in a safety deposit box or fireproof safe.

If you digitize photos, you can scan them into the computer yourself, pay for the service at a camera shop, or go through an online company like ScanMyPhotos.com.  If you keep the original photo prints, Sisco recommends storing them in clearly marked, archival storage boxes.  Place the acid-0free boxes inside a Rubbermaid container to keep out moisture and store them somewhere dry, dark and cool, like a closet…”

SOURCE:  Associated Press    IMAGE:  thefamilycurator.com

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