When Moments Matter

Quick – what would be the first thing you would grab as you ran out the door under a mandatory evacuation?
Chances are, you would grab your precious photo albums to preserve those memories that cannot be replaced.
Priceless memories are probably all around your home. Locked away in storage containers in your attic and garage.
Photos, slides, video cassettes, documents and film that define the milestones in your life.
When was the last time you watched junior’s all star Little League baseball game? How about Sally’s first recital? First steps? First words? First car? Prom? Graduation?
Do you even have a VHS player or 8mm movie projector – or did you sell them at a yard sale in the ‘90s? When was the last time you even saw a slide projector?
But here’s the challenge: How do you preserve all these priceless heirlooms for future generations? Silent and in the dark, these media are gradually deteriorating and will eventually become unusable.
While there is really no way to reverse the degeneration process, there is a way to preserve what you have in digital files that do not degenerate and can be shared easily with family and friends.
Paper photos usually end up in an album or tucked away in storage containers or even dresser drawers throughout the house. Some get framed and hung up on walls or displayed on mantles.
Experts do not agree on how long paper photos will last without significant deterioration. But one thing is clear – even well protected photos that are stored away properly in photo albums – lose much of their quality and experience a pretty severe color shift and deterioration even after 10 years.
Paper photos use chemicals to produce the various colors and these chemicals tend to break down over time.
The other problem with paper photos is physical damage. Whether from water spots, ink, fingerprints, etc., photos can become creased and stained fairly easily over time. Fortunately, most physical damage can be corrected through photo manipulation programs like Photoshop or Gimp.
The best way forward with paper photos (and paper documents, articles, etc.) is to scan them with a high-resolution digital scanner. You will want to scan them at a high enough resolution to produce a 300 dpi (dots per inch) digital file that measures 8” x 10”. This allows you to take the file down to your local CVS pharmacy and print out beautiful 8” x 10” photos – or any smaller size.
You should hire a professional to restore any paper photos that have become physically damaged over time.
35mm Slides
Like their paper counterparts, slides deteriorate pretty significantly over time. And in most cases, people have disposed of their slide projectors years ago. Like any film, slides suffer most from color shift and fading.
A good professional digital scanner allows you to scan film and negatives as well as paper items. In many cases, you are able to scan 4 slides at a time. Just make sure you scan the slides at a high resolution – preferably at least 800 dpi to produce digital files that can be used to make beautiful color photos.
Again, using a photo manipulation software (like Photoshop) will allow you to color correct and enhance the scanned images.
Video Cassettes
The average life expectancy for any magnetic tape (video or audio) is about 20 years. After that, the tape can become brittle, the cassette mechanism may break down and the tape may suffer demagnetization – losing some or all of its image.
Here’s the problem – the height of video cassette popularity was in the ‘80s and ‘90s. That means that most of the tapes stored in your garage or attic are reaching the age where they may no longer be serviceable.
Here’s the other problem – no one is making VHS players any more. If you didn’t keep yours through all those yard sales, you may still be able to enjoy those tapes. If not, go fishing on eBay and hope for the best.
Here’s the last problem – even if you have a cassette player, the tape may be too brittle to play and can easily break.
The best solution for your VHS, VHS-C, Beta, Hi8 video cassettes is to have them converted into digital video files and stored in the cloud or on DVDs – or both.
8mm/Super8 Film
Now we are going back a whole bunch. This was the only way to record motion prior to the creation of the video cassette in the ‘70s. They were grainy, silent and flickered when projected. But they may contain the only movie you have of your child’s first birthday party or first trip to Disney world. Definitely worth keeping, but who even has a film projector today?
Here’s the problem – just as with all film, these tiny format films tend to experience color issues (shifting and fading) and become very delicate over time.
If you still have some of these 3 inch film reels, it is best to have a professional transfer them to digital video files that can be stored in the cloud or on DVD – or both.
Bottom Line
As a caregiver, you probably have a treasure trove of memories that will bring joy to you and your loved one.
In many cases, sharing these memories can be a very rewarding experience for all involved. They provide jumping off points for conversations about fond memories and may even help those with memory issues.
I*Celebrate*Lives is a Tampa Bay area business totally focused on preserving life memories and telling life stories. We do that through our paper photo, 35mm slide, document, negative scanning service; professional image manipulation and restoration services; VHS/Film transfers; life celebration presentations and custom family calendars.
sales@ICelebrateLives.com | www.ICelebrateLives.com | facebook.com/ICelebrateLives | 727.421.2112

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