It’s summertime, the most common time of year to relocate. Chances are if you’re not moving this summer, you know someone who is. You can find all sorts of advice and tips for yourself or your friend about how to carefully transport a large TV or your wedding china, but what about the most precious thing you own, your photos?
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[ctt template=”4″ link=”GlD5H” via=”yes” ]Moving with your photos – Of all the things that needed to make it safely across the country, this was it. Pictures of each of my babies’ first days…[/ctt]
The last time I moved, I was responsible for my own packing, which hadn’t been the case for the last several moves. (Thanks, Corporate America.) I remember putting my photo albums in boxes and then just staring at these records of my life, experience, and memories. I stay consistently caught up preserving my photos and memories (here are my secrets of how I do it), so there were more than a few. Of all the things that needed to make it safely and securely across the country, this was it. Pictures of each of my babies’ first days of life and 8th birthday parties were more important than the chairs and vases and piano also making the trip. I knew I could leave pretty much all of it behind if I had to, but those pictures? They had to make it.
Your pictures are like that, too. So let’s talk for a minute about pictures: how to store them, how to transport them, and how to love them.
How To Safely Transport The Most Precious Thing You Own – Moving With Your Photos
Right now there’s a big frenzy about storing digital photos safely—in the cloud, on an external hard drive, on a disc or flash drive, etc. But have you ever thought of this: storage, by definition, is putting something out of sight that you don’t intend to use soon or regularly. That doesn’t seem right for pictures, now, does it? You take the pictures in order to remember something! You don’t take them so they can gather virtual dust or not be looked at for 25 years. The very purpose of a picture is to be able to see a moment after it is gone—or a person after he/she is gone! In fact, did you know that reminiscing (interacting with your photos and memories in your hands) has been shown to actually increase happiness, lower stress, increase gratitude and purpose, and foster connections between family members? There are even more benefits for kids!
Storing a photo is good, of course, but digital photos files are really just a backup. Digital photos aren’t the main goal, and here’s why:
- Photos left in digital form will always be at the mercy of technology. In many ways, you have very little control over what happens to them. Files can become corrupted (unreadable), hard drives can crash, etc. Can you say floppy disc? What if your cloud storage method changes their system or goes out of business? Know that digital photos are essentially film negatives. They’re nice to have in case something happens to the real thing—they just aren’t the real thing.
- Digital photos don’t provide a place for your memories or for details. My sister and I are three years apart and don’t really look that much alike. I found a picture of my mom holding a baby that is obviously either my sister or me, but there were no details with the photo, and I actually cannot tell who it is. Digital photos are the same way. Your jpeg image is literally called IMG_3256, NOT “We met our friends at the airport and were so excited to spend these few days with them. It had been so long since we’d seen them! The first thing we did after taking a taxi from the airport was check in to our hotel. Look at the view from our hotel window!” Printing the photos—whether in individual prints or in a digital book or digital scrap pages—gives you a chance to explain why you took the picture and what you want to remember about it. And that actually helps you remember the events better in the future, too!
[ctt template=”4″ link=”Qe537″ via=”yes” ]Photos left in digital form will always be at the mercy of technology. In many ways, you have very little control over what happens to them. [/ctt]
Print is where it’s at! That’s how you can see and enjoy your photos—you know, the ones that you took to remember something in the first place? If you Google information on how to best store your photos, you’ll find several suggestions, but the general consensus is that they should be stored two ways digitally and one way printed.
You probably have both kinds of pictures—printed and digital. Maybe you only have pictures in one place like your phone or your camera. Let’s look at how to make sure your pictures—all of them—get safely from point A to point B.
Printed photos should be stored and transported flat. Make sure there’s not a lot of opportunity for jostling around inside a box. Printed photos can be easily damaged if they are overstuffed in an album or a box because they can get dog-eared, bent, or torn. Printed photos should be stored in low light, low humidity, and low heat. When looking for photo storage containers, look for plastics made from uncoated polyethylene or polypropylene. If your photos are already in albums or books (hooray!), they are hopefully already encased in photo-safe materials such as acid-free papers and plastics. If your photos are not in high-quality photo-safe books or albums, be sure that gets on your to-do list when you get to your new location. (Photos in a box don’t do anybody any good, right?)
I will interject here, too, that you just need to do your best. The moving truck environment is not ideal, but unless it’s a climate-controlled truck, there is little you can do about it. Humidity issues may be out of your control. The last time I moved, I moved from a seriously humid place (the first week of July!). My beloved photos spent over a week in a metal moving truck container (that’s a long story) crossing the humid half of the country. I packed them as best I could, but it was all I could do. Just remember that less-than-ideal circumstances are temporary. From there you can make sure you’re giving your photos their best home, including preserving them with your memories in photo-safe books. (This is my favorite easy option for preserving photos that are already printed.)
But what about digital photos? If you have digital photos on your phone, then transporting them seems as straightforward as putting your phone in your pocket and getting in the car. Remember when I said technology is a fickle place for your photos? As it turns out, 36 million smartphones are ruined by water each year, and 70 million smartphones are stolen each year. Combine those two statistics and we’re talking about 1/3 of phones! This year, one in three phones will no longer have access to the photos that were on them. Add to that the fact that a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds and it becomes apparent that leaving your photos on your phone or computer is risky.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”dL8yv” via=”yes” ]This year, one in three phones will no longer have access to the photos that were on them. Add to that the fact that a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds and it becomes apparent that leaving your photos on your phone or computer is risky.[/ctt]
As a quick backup in preparation for a move, be sure you back up your photos in a secondary place. Because I often hear people say they don’t even know how to get their pictures off their phones, I made a short and very basic tutorial video showing how. You can find it here. This way your photos will be on your phone and on your computer—two digital places. Once they’re on your computer, you could save them to a CD or flash drive also, if you like. I suggest packing these items in different boxes, too, just to be extra safe.
I’ve been a photo lover and journaler and memory-keeper for as long as I can remember. I’m in my 13th year now of making that my business, so I have some definite memory-keeping preferences and reasons behind them. You can read about my own method of storing photos two ways digitally and one way in print right here. I choose this method because I can do everything at one website—free digital photo storage and an app to upload straight from my phone, plus a secondary digital photo storage option as well as a high-quality print method (books and scrap pages). What I especially love is that this method includes a backup of my saved digital scrap pages and digital books (the actual projects) as well, so that’s a back-up of my printed photos and memories, too! When I put those scrap pages and digital books in boxes for their week-long metal container journey halfway across the humid country, I knew that if anything happened to those pages, those projects were saved in my account and the Heirloom Assurance program would kick in. It’s my all-time favorite method for more reasons than I can list here!
So happy travels! I wish you friendly neighbors and a home you love. Take pictures and make memories. When you’re settled (or maybe a little before), remember those pictures that have been waiting for you. Find three or four people who need to preserve their photos and memories, too. Invite your new friends to your house once a month for a few hours. Everybody bring a snack and a laptop, then sit down together and turn your precious photos and memories into something you and your family can hold and love.
Here are three of my best suggestions for you to make it simple:
- Catching Up on Your Photos with the Two-in-One Plan (free printable and recorded video class)
- How to Stop Being Overwhelmed with Your Photos with a Family Yearbook (40-minute video class and tutorial with specific solutions; skip technical difficulties in the video from 27:11-34:05)
- Making a Photo or Memory Book in a Snap (video tutorial about simple digital publishing with a clean, crisp look and better quality than the run-of-the-mill online photo books around)
One thing you probably have in common with all your new neighbors’ and all the mommies you’ll meet through your kids is pictures that need some love. A memory-keeping group is an easy way to reach out and make something meaningful in the process. Give me a shout if you want some ideas! Just #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs
Not moving? Share this post with someone you know who is.
This post was contributed by Jennifer Wise, who is a wife and a mom of three. She has been a Heritage Makers consultant since 2005, passionate about the power of photos and memories when they are recorded and preserved, so she blogs about it every week at https://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/. She is also the #familyhistoryfriday contributor at https://www.livegrowgive.org/.where she writes about family, photos, stories, memories, and making connections. Her website is https://heritagemakers.com/jenniferwise. Jennifer can also be found at YouTube https://youtube.com/user/jwiseheritagemakers offering free tutorial videos on digitally creating everything from family yearbooks to playing card decks, plus tips for photo organization, too! Jennifer loves traveling, the beach, new recipes, laughing, creativity, Christmas, digital scrapbooking, seashells, Oxford commas, and homemade guacamole, but not necessarily in that order. She is an occasional American Sign Language interpreter for the Deaf, and she currently teaches an early morning scripture class to a fantastic group of high school students. Jennifer holds a B.A. degree in Humanities-English literature from Brigham Young University and loves what the arts do for the soul.
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