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Home /History / Why Scan my Memories Now?

Why Scan my Memories Now?

By Oliva Harlow

“It’s just too much work, and I don’t have the time right now.”

“Maybe when I get that fancy scanner this Christmas…”

“One of the kids will do it. They’re more techy than I am.”

Do these excuses sound familiar? Well, by procrastinating the digitization of your family photo collections and VHS tapes, you’re risking the loss of these most precious memories day by day.

The sad but honest truth is that your Polaroid prints, VHS tapes and 8mm film clips won’t last forever. Eventually, saturation and details will fade from your photographs, audio will diminish from old recordings, and technology necessary to play certain slides or videos will break or become obsolete altogether.

It sounds depressing, right? But, there is good news: Digitization can save your memorabilia from this desperate fate. By transforming your Mom’s 4x6 scrapbook prints and Grandma’s black and white movies into digital files, you can ensure these moments, frozen in time, are timeless and unforgotten.

Still not convinced? Here are a few things to consider.

What Happens If I Don’t

Photos fade. And no, hiding pics in a dark closet won’t save them. It’s not just light that makes a photo’s color dissolve; it’s actually the photos themselves.That’s right — those Polaroid prints from the 70s didn’t used to have an orange-hue with splotches in the corners. Color shifting is inevitable, and there’s nothing your best climate-controlled closet can do to stop it — well, unless you’ve got some high-tech, museum archival-type storage space... Yeah, we didn’t think so.

Disaster happens. Hopefully you never experience flooding or a fire in your home. But, just like a bad breakup or family tragedy, we never think it’ll happen to us until … it does. If a foot of water reaches your family’s multi-generational photo album, or a fire takes hold of your slides, you’ll probably never be able to restore them. And while your insurance might cover a lot of material possessions, it’ll never bring back those Instax mini prints or stacks of VHS classics.

Scratching, fingerprints and accidental spills. Despite layers meant to protect your tapes, slides, VHS tapes and negative films, these items are extremely delicate and susceptible to scars from even the softest, most brief contact. Additionally, fingerprints leave unwanted markings on photos, and accidental Kool-Aid spills can cause irreparable decay. No transparent cover or paper envelope can save ‘em when this happens.

Time. It’s inescapable. With every second, minute, hour, day, month, year, you risk losing quality in your photos and films. This is especially true with video tapes, which are the most vulnerable to mold, scratching, and general wear-and-tear that comes from overuse, as well as a lack of use. Whether you’ve watched the home video of Grandpa sledding a million times or just once in the last decade, there are numerous things that can destroy the documentation. A few of these threats include: remanence decay, delamination and lubricant erosion.


What Happens If I Do

Ok, enough of the negativity already! Aside from the cons that come from failure to digitize, what are some pros of digitization?

Identification. This might not have ever crossed your mind, but: What happens when you — and no one else — can say for certain who the person is in the back right corner of that photograph you just gifted to your great-grandkid? You know the woman is a family member. You know it’s someone important to you. You should know who it is. Maybe it’s Aunt Ethel. But you really have no idea. And your great-grandchild certainly doesn’t have a clue. Well, by digitizing and sharing photos with friends and family via social media, you can collaboratively identify unknown people in your pictures and save yourself some embarrassment when you give your great-grandchild those ancient photos.

Backup. Two is better than one. There’s no reason the sole copy of Mom drunkenly skiing in an electric lime pantsuit in Jackson Hole in 1984 should be stored in a shoebox under your bed. Of all the things that can go wrong and cause damage to your photos — mold, scratching, tears, fingerprints, and heaven forbid, they be misplaced— it’s important to obtain digital copies invincible to these types of threats.

Organization. By digitizing, you’ll be able to create various online albums, whether it be in a Google Drive, the Cloud or on social media. Then, you can arrange photos by date or place. Some photo software programs and social media applications even allow you to “tag” people in photos, so that you can isolate imagery based on facial recognition. You can similarly add keywords or phrases to photos, such as ‘my birthdays’ or ‘grandpa’ or ‘Lake Tahoe’ to help you locate certain images or videos.

Other Incentives

It’ll strengthen your relationships. While digging through old pictures and tapes, you’ll rediscover all kinds of people, places and events from your past that maybe you’d forgotten. Not only will the nostalgia bring you personal warmth and joy, but through sharing them, you could draw closer to folks from your past. You might be surprised at how a single photo can rekindle an old romance or reunite a group of friends you hadn’t spoken to in a decade.

We make it easy and affordable. Nowadays, digitization is cheaper than ever. We charge about $9 per tape, $16 for a 50-foot film reel and $59 cents per photo. All you have to do is pack up your prints and VHS tapes and mail them to us. Within a matter of weeks, you’ll have your original copies returned to you in the same condition you sent them, as well as a DVD, thumb drive, or iCloud filled with new digital copies.

Because there’s no one-size-fits-all expiration date to your photo quality or home video tapes, the sooner you digitize them, the better. So, make today the day you silence your excuses. Make the leap and digitize with Southtree!

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