Digitizing Your Family Photos

This guest post is written by Hana Iverson, a PhotoLounge customer and professional photo organizer. 

My house is filled with boxes of photos several generations of inherited memories. The pandemic has provided me with the opportunity to sort through them. Flipping through family vacation photos, I came across this picture of my Grandma Anne and my Grandpa Lou. Grandpa loved to stage these moments, corralling my grandmother into his scheme, much to my mother’s amusement. We have several funny pictures, but this one is a classic. I vaguely remember the story behind it: a gift of Yukatas colorful cotton summer kimonos from a friend who went to Japan. I found this photo in an envelope, saved separately from the massive box of pictures that are now labeled “Palm Springs.” I remember Grandpa’s delight in the effort, the giant sunglasses adding the magic touch. Costumes became a family tradition: my mother dressed my sister and I and our pony Dandy as jockey, owner and racehorse and we won first prize in the costume class at the local fair.

We are a family of photography lovers. My grandfather Lou had an old box camera that he carried everywhere, that I now treasure. My grandfather Harry had a 16mm movie camera. I discovered the old movies at different stages first when I was young, later a smelly stack of film reels unearthed after my parents had passed away. I started to study photography as a kid at camp and spent hours in the dark room, watching images come to life in developing trays. By seventeen, I was the family photographer. At eighteen my parents asked if I would organize the family photos as a summer project.

After my Mom and Dad passed away, we emptied their house and the full magnitude of the family photos came into focus many casually tossed in a box, some with a semblance of a filing system. Several large boxes were delivered to my garage, all filled with photos. These were quickly unpacked and transitioned to my living room, a more stable environment and a farewell to my curated living space. I am still sorting through the massive trove of family pictures, years later, when prints, slides and negatives have joined a generation of digital images gathered by camera and smart phone. These images are in binders, loosely scattered in boxes, on hard drives, computers and in the cloud.

Not knowing how to tackle this challenging project, I turned to Photolounge to help me in this effort. I didn’t want to outsource these treasured pictures and knew from their reputation with trusted friends, that they would handle everything with care.

I have digitized these photos in two batches so far, with a third set on the way. For this process, PhotoLounge provided a personal consultation. This resulted in organized boxes of 16mm film, slides, negatives and old family photographs where we were able to prioritize the sets of images, all with consistent formatting.

I am now rediscovering my own photo history, as well as that of the family, and sharing these images with cousins, nephews and friends.

Lou loved to take pictures, though he took the same picture over and over. Whomever he was photographing stood squinting into the sun with one foot towards the camera and Grandpa’s shadow across the bottom of the frame. Now organized and digitized, I am so grateful to have the memories to pass on.

Hana Iverson is a multidisciplinary artist and educator with a focus on photography. A member of Photo Managers, she helps people organize their family collections and make digitizing decisions. Visit her at HanaIverson.com.

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