In honor of New Year’s and the resolutions we make, I’m going to share some of my all-time favorite photo organizing tips with you this month.
Before You Start: Find Expert Advice
The best place to start is to attend a workshop or get your hands on a decent how-to book. Since these are your family treasures and not just any old paper, I strongly recommend you get your advice from someone familiar with photo preservation rather than a professional clutter buster. There are some basic no-no’s you need to avoid — most notably using poor quality boxes and albums. I don’t care how adorable the design is, if it smells awful you would be crazy to use it for storing photographs. Although this simple sniff test might not seem scientific, it can keep your photos away from PVCs which will damage them over time. (In other words: If it smells like a cheap shower curtain, run!)
Find Expert Advice Online.
Here are two general articles written specifically for non-archivists:
The Library of Congress: Caring for your Photographic Collections
Northeast Document Conservation Center: Care of Photographs
You can also use my Preservation Answer Machine to find information about caring for specific types of photographs (cased images, tintypes, etc.) or for advice on how to safely label your photos.
Find a How-To Manual.
The book I recommend more often than any other is Maureen Taylor’s Preserving Your Family Photographs. Amazon.com has new and used copies for sale. Your public library may also have a copy you can borrow.
I noticed that there’s one reviewer on Amazon.com who complains that it’s not a good book for beginners. I whole-heartedly disagree, but by the time I discovered this book I had already finished grad school and worked as a professional archivist.
Of course, if I hear from other beginners out there that they also found this book too advanced, I will change my tune. Please feel free to email me or leave a comment here on the blog.
Upcoming Workshop in Madison, Wisconsin.
On Saturday, January 2oth, 2007 I’ll be hosting my first-ever Photo Savers / Story Keepers half day workshop in Madison, Wisconsin. The class will start with the “what to keep” and continue on to “how to keep.” You’ll also learn a wrtiting technique so painless that you will truly enjoy recording the stories behind your photographs. Visit the official website for more details, including how to order a recording if you can’t make it in person.