Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sorting Saturday-Photo Album Archiving & Digital Sorting Part 1

This is Mom's family photo album complete with the highly acidic black pages and glued down photos.  They sure don't make glue like that anymore! The album covers the time period from prior to Mom's birth up to about the time I was born.

Recently while making a photo gift book, I scanned some of the photos in this album and realized that there were some serious archiving and preservation steps that needed to be taken.  Many of these pictures are one of a kind and I would like my children and grandchildren to enjoy them some day.

I broke the project down into 2 parts:  digital and physical.


Fortunately, the album binding is held together with screws.  So I was able to completely disassemble the album for scanning and then reassemble it.  I scanned the photos as TIFF at 600 dpi.  Sometime after completing the project, it was suggested to me that all photos should be scanned at an output size of 8 x 10 regardless of the original photo's size.  Seems like new information is always surfacing to consider.  Does anyone out there have any opinions or experience with that?  Just curious.

My scanner will scan multiple photos, placed on the scanner glass, to individual files.  By using this feature, I was able to get all of the 6 - 12 pictures on each page scanned with 2 or 3 passes. 

I felt it was important to preserve the order the photos were placed in the album. If the album were ever lost or if someone were to view the digital files with no access to the album, they could still determine the order the pictures were in.  The order of the photos does to some extent tell a story.  So I came up with the following naming convention:


By using 2 digit page and photo numbers, the files will sort in the same order as in the album.  In some cases, I also included a very short description of the photo at the end of the file name.

While writing this article I realized I haven't included tags or captions with these files.  That would be a good idea!  That's what I love about blogging, it causes one to reflect and do a more complete or better job!

To be continued next Saturday...

To read the other installments in this series:
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

© 2010, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Thanks for directing me to your blog. My thoughts went along the lines of yours -- scan every page at a high resolution and save to TIF. I also saved to JPG just because I don't know whether it's possible to convert a TIF to a JPG (or how to do it if it is possible). I saved my in batched under "momsalbum" or some such name. I like your idea for file names for each individual page, the the way you did it. I think I'll change mine. No confusion in the future about which page goes where.

    I'll check back for the rest of the story on your decisions about the album.

    Nancy from My Ancestors and Me

  2. Nancy, For the photos I want in JPG, I just open the TIFF file (in Photoshop Elements in my case) and resave it as a JPG. That's the only way I've figured out to do it without going back and rescanning the picture a second time as a JPG.

    Anyone out there have any other suggestions?

  3. Nancy, I was reading some older posts at
    The Family Curator
    today. In one of them she mentions using a program called Xnview to batch convert files from TIFF to JPEG. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet but it looks like it could be helpful.

    The article is called Tech Tuesday: Tools for Transcribing Documents and was posted 26 May 2009.

  4. ohh.. I should have read your post before I started doing all this scanning. I've just been doing it at the default settings, and cropping it down. I should look into this more. oops

  5. Kelly, I keep learning new things about scanning every day too. I just keep going and start using new things I learn. Tomorrow there will be something new to learn, new technology, etc. At least we are making forward progress little by little!