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Preserving your photographic memories


Published on 5 Apr 2013 07:23 : photographs keepsafe richard haines : 2 comments : 1962 views

If you're a regular user of Genes Reunited, you may already have investigated our Keepsafe feature, which allows you to upload treasured family photographs and documents. It's a great way to ensure your digital legacy – a carefully curated and preserved archive that you can share with your family. But what about all those old photos that you keep meaning to scan in, but just haven't had the chance? Photos, like any archive material, can degrade over the years – have you checked on those shoeboxes and old albums recently?

Richard Haines of Photographs Forever specialises in restoring old photographs, and says "Unfortunately photographs don't age well and over time their quality deteriorates. Because photos are printed on paper, things such as handling, light, moisture, dust, and scratches often affect them. Regrettably, these factors can ruin our photos and prevent them from lasting through future generations. Poor storage, such as keeping photos in attics or basements or allowing photos to be exposed to sunlight, have all contributed to the poor condition of most of our photo collections.

"It is a very good idea to restore your special photographs or even entire photo collection in order to stop the unavoidable destruction that will take place no matter how carefully the photos are stored. Once you have digital copies you needn't worry about further damage because digital images do not change at all."

Faded photograph restored
Faded photograph restored

You can even get enlargements made of restored photos – perhaps you'd like to present your parents with a framed version of their favourite photo on their first holiday, or give all the grandchildren a copy of an old (but badly scratched and folded) family photo. Richard comments "Since old photographs have a tendency to degrade over time, professional photo restorers have developed digital techniques for restoring your old photographs and they can eliminate scratches, cracks, tears, and fading as well as repairing other damage. Many precious old photographs, often the last copy in existence, are good quality but too small to see the detail. Restoration not only captures the image electronically but then allows the restored photograph to be enlarged so prints and enlargements can be made or framed so they can be truly enjoyed in all their glory."

Tattered portrait photograph of soldier rescued
Tattered portrait photograph of soldier rescued

Once you can see the detail in those old photos more clearly, they may even hold valuable clues to aspects of your family history – who's that woman standing on the edge of the family group? What's that landmark in the background? Richard says "Deteriorating photos may provide important historical links in your family or possible clues about your ancestors. When rebuilding your family tree, it is possible to determine certain aspects of your ancestry, such as weddings, landmarks of geographical nature and important occasions. Enhancing your old photos may reveal details you had not noticed before." Remember, when you upload your photos to Keepsafe, you can choose to make them public to other Genes Reunited users and invite others to help you investigate them further – someone else might have the answers you've been looking for.

Take some time this week to look over your old photographs and create safe digital copies of them – you may even find precious photos you'd like to see restored. And if you have any questions regarding preserving old photographs then Richard would be happy to help you.

Try Keepsafe now

by Richard Haines of Photographs Forever

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by Simon on 6 Apr 2013 19:22 :
If you don't have a scanner, it's easy enough to photograph your old photos using a digital camera. It's best, of course, to use a tripod and lay the photos, or album on the floor with the camera set up pointing directly down at the photos. Then, simply zoom in and focus on the picture you want to copy. (It's actually much easier than trying to use a scanner!)

Once you have the pictures re-photographed you may wish to use a graphics package such as Photoshop to crop and adjust the pictures to your liking.

I did this with the 300 or so photos in an old 1890s family photo album which, if I'd sent them all off, would have cost me c£4000 using the service above!
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by dopey06 on 9 Jan 2014 15:35 :
Taking photos of old photos with a digi camera is what I do , but I do not know how to add them to my tree ?

Any advice welcome please .

dopey06@gmail.com

Thank you .

How do I write my own blog please ? :-)