Review: How to Archive Family Photos

How to Archive Family Photos coverOne frequently heard comment about a great book is, “I couldn’t put it down.” With Denise Levenick’s How to Archive Family Photos, I was constantly putting it down – and that’s a good thing! This book is so full of practical ways to manage your photo collection that you will want to stop and put them to work right away. Denise sent me a PDF “review” copy which is a digitized version of the print edition of the book. The photos, graphics and tables in the print edition add visual support to the words, making it much easier to understand how specific programs work or better visualize a workflow. That being said, as soon as the Kindle version was released, I grabbed a copy. Why have both? The Kindle edition makes it easy to highlight text and add my own notes which are visible when reading the books, and those notes are also synched to my online Kindle library. It already has dozens of bookmarks, highlights and notes so that I can quickly find a specific item when I need it.

The book is divided into three major sections: Organize, Digitize and Create. Denise is an experienced organizer and uses the first section to share the lessons she has learned to help us develop a workable system of our own. From collecting to organizing and then managing our photo archives, she offers both ideas and tools to get us going. Protecting our collections from disaster – physical and technical – is an integral part of her strategy and her organizational workflows are designed to include backup steps.

Once our organizational system is in place and operational, we can then focus on digitizing older photos, family documents and heirlooms. The Digitize section is more than a primer for scanning. Even before getting into the actual scanning process, she discusses how to prepare our older photos and heirloom photos and how to handle them after they have been scanned. There is a discussion of storage devices and platforms as well as ways to estimate how much storage we will need. Another section looks at the growing number of scanners available. She provides tips on how to name the scanned files, appropriate file formats and discussions on scanning equipment.

Throughout the book, Denise provides a number of downloadable worksheets and checklists to help us insure consistency. These are wonderful resources for people like me who don’t do these tasks frequently enough that they are second nature.

At the moment I’m stuck in the Create section. I say “stuck” because this is where I keep stopping to try out the many creative ideas. I thought I knew all there was to know about photo calendars – until reading this book. I’ve got new ideas for cards too and am just getting started in the fabric section. I think I’ll be in this section quite some time.

How to Archive Family Photos is an essential reference for every family historian – and photo fanatic.

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