• Helen Gregory

Protect your photos - and memories

A client admitted to me recently that she only had a handful of photographs with which to illustrate her life story book. It got me thinking about the importance of looking after your photos, not just those old black and white prints in dusty boxes, but the ones scattered across phones, tablets and digital cameras.

When you're ready for a project, why not start by discarding prints that are blurry, feature your thumb or are too bright or dark. When you've selected those worth keeping, write a quick note on the back of each one using a soft lead pencil - never a ballpoint pen, which can damage the surface or seep through - labelling either the event it took place at, the people in the photo or where it was taken.

While you’re sorting photographs, remove any glue, tape, staples, rubber bands and paper clips. Then when you’re ready to store them, prevent them from sticking together using sheets of acid-free tissue paper before fixing them into albums with photo corners, never glue, and if possible don’t keep them in the loft, where they could be exposed to fluctuating temperatures and damp. One easy way to safely store your prints is to digitize them – scanning or photographing with a good quality camera, and then organising them into folders and albums - by date, by event, and by who’s in the photo.

When sorting out all the pictures on your phone and computer, pick those you feel are especially important, name the file, then create folders for them. Make at least two copies - one for your computer or laptop and make another on a DVD, portable hard drive, or on the cloud – better safe than sorry.

With the nights drawing in, use the darker evenings to sort out both those modern and vintage photos. Not only will you feel a sense of satisfaction at clearing out cupboards, you’ll also find it’s a great way to spark memories and conversations with friends and family– and your life story book!