Although it's not well understood by the general public, your digital assets are at peril in the event of your death. Many online services terminate member accounts upon death leaving family members scrambling and fighting to regain access. You may think your photos are stored safely on Shutterfly or Flickr or one of the multitude of photo sharing sites, but once you're gone, so are they. Same goes for your iTunes purchases. Hard to believe, but it's true. If this concerns you, Gen-Ark is a new company who is dedicated to providing PERMANENT storage solutions for ALL your digital assets. They will even upgrade various digital formats as older ones become obsolete guaranteeing your digital assets become a legacy for the future generations of your family. If you want to learn more about the important field of digital asset preservation, take advantage of their FREE webinar series. The first installment is scheduled for August 14th and will introduce you to the concept of digital asset preservation. This is such a new field, that even lawyers are scrambling to make sense of it all. So be on the forefront and sign up today!
Me & my Grandpa, who passed away in '99.
As part of the human experience, we all lose loved ones. Sometimes after a life long-lived and sometimes entirely too early. Many of us inherit our loved one’s belongings which often include their photo collections. These boxes come home with you, are too painful to face and get pushed into a closet to deal with later.
However, once you’re ready, these photos can be an incredible way to reconnect with your loved one. I have witnessed several clients face these boxes and have seen the comfort their photos bring. You might come across photos of yourself you’ve never seen, happy memories from times shared with your loved one. You’ll also get a glimpse into your loved one's soul, to see the world as they saw it and to learn more about their passions simply by what they chose to photograph. You might learn things about your loved one you never knew, like trips they took or work experiences they didn’t discuss. Our photos become a visual documentation of our lives, a visual autobiography, and viewing your loved one’s photos allows you to experience their lives as seen through their lens.
Once you’ve sorted through your loved one’s photos, it’s important to preserve, protect and share them. A reputable company like Fotobridge can scan and digitize them for you and, in turn, giving copies of the digital files to other family members can become a priceless gift. Making sure they are stored in an archival-quality box in a temperature-controlled area of your house is extremely important. And creating traditional photo albums or digital photo books and slideshows will help you share their memories and bring your loved one’s photos back to life again.
Just as the grieving process differs for everyone, there is no magic amount of time when you’ll be ready to open these boxes and face these photos, but once you're ready, you might be pleasantly surprised at the comfort these photos bring and the sense of intimate connection you feel upon seeing the world through their eyes.
Most of us live in a hectic, highly-scheduled world. We are bound by clocks and alarms. And from this perspective, we attempt to organize our lifetime of photos. But we get hung up on TIME. Your goal of organizing your lifetime of photos seems too overwhelming and it gets tabled for later.
I’m here to tell you a little secret. When it comes to organizing your photo collection, throw time out the window. Don’t get hung up trying to puzzle together days, months, years, even decades. You’ll make yourself crazy and won’t get anything accomplished.
The easiest way to start thinking about your photos is in categories. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, vacations, immediate family, extended family. You get the picture. While every family will have a different set of categories, it is MUCH easier to pour over thousands of family photos within the context of categories. Your category piles will start to build and you won’t waste any time struggling to remember the date & year of your Uncle Joe’s wedding.
Think about it. When you need to find a specific picture, you wouldn’t think, “I need to find that picture of my sister taken on April 5, 1973.” You think, “I remember a great picture of my sister taken at Uncle Joe’s wedding.” So when your photo organizing project is complete, you can easily open your archival-quality storage box, find the weddings section, then find the tab that says “Uncle Joe’s Wedding” and voilà! There’s that great pic of your sister!
This one tip alone will make it so much easier for you to start your photo organizing project, but if you still feel overwhelmed by the sheer VOLUME of photos, just remember I’m here to help. Contact me any time!
This was the scene in the court next to mine earlier this evening. A house engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes. Thankfully, the two residents who were home at the time got out safely. But guess what was the first thing she mentioned after saying all was lost? Her PICTURES. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when tragedy strikes, what people want most are their pictures, not their clothes, their jewelry, their furniture. Their PICTURES. And sadly, so many of us don’t take the time to BACK UP our photo collections until it’s too late.
Here are a few steps to take to protect your non-digital photo collection:
1) For the boxes and bags of prints you have from the pre-digital days, possibly scattered all over your house, gather them all in one place.
2) Next, commit the time to sorting through and organizing them.
3) Once organized, put them in an archival storage box that is easily accessible to grab in case of emergency.
4) Another option with prints is to hire a reputable company like FotoBridge to scan them all to digital so they can be backed up along with the rest.
For your digital photo collection, it’s common advice now to back up your digital files in at least three places. Two of those should be off site and at least one as far removed from you geographically as possible should disaster strike.
Here are several options for backing up your digital files:
1) Use an external hard drive (EHD) like PictureKeeper, that makes it ridiculously easy to collect ALL the digital images from your computer. Then keep the EHD either in a fire-proof safe, a safe deposit box or even send to a friend to store for you.
2) Use a cloud storage service like Carbonite or This Life which will cover you for remote location storage.
3) Burn your images to archival-quality DVDs like these from MAM-A and, again, put them in a fire-proof safe, a safe deposit box or a friend's house.
I'm in this business because I care about protecting your family's cherished memories. I don't want to see another family in tears because they've lost everything, including their photos. I implore you to develop a back-up plan for your photo collection in the event of a catastrophe. We never want to think it could happen to us, but there's no harm in planning for the worst. If tragedy were to strike, you’ll be crying about your lost “stuff,” but feeling grateful that your photos are safe off site and can be recovered with ease.
I'm an APPO-certified personal photo organizer with a passion for helping people protect and share their family photos.
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