Cousin1 (my third cousin) went to visit Cousin2 (my first cousin). Cousin2 allowed Cousin1 to borrow the photographs that live with him at the old homestead (the one that was built in 1830) so she could take them home (far away) to scan. Most of these pictures are of people who died eons before Cousin2 was even born and Cousin2 is quite old now. In less than a week Cousin2 was on the phone to Cousin1 asking, “When are you sending those photos back?”
It’s not that Cousin2 has any particular use for them; they’re just part of the old house. They and It and He are crumbling together. Most of these photos weren’t even hanging in glass frames, just tucked away in drawers and the proverbial attic and under the couch with the spare change. But still, the pictures being gone would be like someone walking out with the kitchen sink. It’s something you’d notice.
Well, thank God for Cousin1 making the trip, because 125+ years later these photos had a continuing life expectancy of another minute before they were not only buried but returned to dust.
Cousin1 in the meantime was up to all hours on a scanning blitz, due to the pressure from Cousin2. And she was sending JPG’s over to me by email. I wrote her a couple of emails back and then gave up and asked her to call me collect. Fortunately, she’s good-natured and was willing to be swayed on this matter because I got her to scan the photos as large as possible in an uncompressed, editable format and mail them to me on CD’s.
A couple of things:
- If you have old photos, scan them before they turn to dust – preferably before they start growing photo fungus.
- If your photos already have a fungal problem a good photo editor can do miracles so don’t panic.
- Do not scan and then save photographs as JPG’s. Or, if you’re going to, don’t tell me, it’ll make me cry.
- Scan them as large as possible and save them in an editable format (i.e. TIFF). No-one wants to see their ancestors in wallet-size; it’s truly heart-breaking.
- The original photos will be eaten up by time and that which eats everything. Save the original scans in their original large size. Make as many copies as possible and put them somewhere safe. “Safe” in the digital world is a little nerve-wracking, so optimally on as many kinds of devices as possible and all over the country. Use a copy of each photo to edit to your heart’s content. Make smaller JPG copies, if you must, of your edited versions for casual viewing and emailing. The edits of the originals should be large enough for re-printing.
You may only have one shot at this so try to see the bigger picture. LOL