Captured Moments – Preserving the Past

It is fairly easy to safeguard digital images today, but for those of us who still have shoe boxes (or plastic bags if you live in Florida) filled with fading prints from days gone by, it can be a challenge. The best solution that we have found is to scan the photographs and then upload them to a photo service such as Shutterfly. Once they are uploaded, we can take our time organizing them into albums.  It is a tedious process that requires a lot of patience, but it is worth the effort. We do not print all of the albums that we create, but at least we have them safeguarded and can print them if we want to.

Below is a screenshot of a page from the first Album that we created in 2008. The book was a gift to our daughter and included favorite family photographs from her childhood. All of the pictures were patiently sorted and scanned before being added to the pages of the book. That was also the year that I decided to purchase a digital camera!!!

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When we were married, the photographer gave us about 200 4×6 “proofs” in which to narrow down to twenty that were presented in a beautiful 10×12 leather bound album.  Last year we scanned all 200 proofs and created a 12×12 hard bound book which includes almost all of those photographs. I enjoy tweaking the pages and have not yet printed the album. Maybe one day I will decide that it is ready. Below is a screenshot of a page from that album.

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Increase the size of this page to get a better look at the sidebar. You will notice how easy it is to arrange photographs, change backgrounds, and add embellishments to the pages. You can even use a photograph as the background if you choose. There is an option to allow Shutterfly to arrange your photos, but I prefer the Custom option since it gives the user complete control.

It is very rewarding to take old photographs from this…

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to this…


There are a lot of very good on-line photo book services to choose from when creating your books. You can look at their ratings here. I have tried a couple of other services, but have never found a compelling reason to change from Shutterfly. I hope you will be encouraged to give one of them a try.

With experience, I have gotten better at arrangements and commentary, and now enjoy the challenge of presenting the highlights of our lives in an annual photo journal. Creating our Annual Photo Journal is how I stay current with organizing the thousands of photographs that we take each year.

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Generally, the process is to remove the SD disc from my camera and add the photos to a laptop as soon as possible after taking the photographs. Once there, I can sort, edit and upload desired images to Shutterfly, creating folders and albums as needed.  The current Book is always a work in progress, and easily accessible, so I can work on it at my leisure. Stored books are also available and can be tweaked and polished until we decide they are ready to publish.

The books on the coffee table below represent  highlights from the past several years of our lives along with a few “trip specific” books. We love looking at the past and reliving our family memories and travels.

We still have hundreds of old photographs that need to be scanned and organized, but we have become comfortable with the process, and will eventually complete the task. The key for us, is to be realistic and break the job up into manageable pieces. Pitching fuzzy photos and duplicates are at the top of the priority list; followed by sorting and dating. Scanning begins only after we have narrowed down the “keepers.”

There is no guarantee that our daughter will cherish and appreciate these books, or the effort we have made to preserve the memories of a family whose lives were lived well. But, without a doubt, we will look at them and smile until our last days. That alone makes it worthwhile.

16 thoughts on “Captured Moments – Preserving the Past

  1. I have been meaning to do this for years… 2018 may be the year I actually do it. I have our childhood photo album full of black and whites that I want to get scanned for my brothers, but I also want to create travel books for each of my husband’s and my adventures. The only thing I’d add to your wonderful post is to keep an eye out for Groupon deals. I have a friend who puts together her albums online, then just waits for a coupon before she gets them printed.


  2. Janis, I always wait for the 50% off coupon before I publish. Shutterfly runs them regularly. I also search for a shipping code, which can be combined with the coupon. The annual book usually costs around $75 – $100. That is pretty cheap, considering what we all used to pay for prints from film. I hope this will be the year you create your books. Once you get started it is pretty addictive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this post! I’ve been saying I’m going to do this for years. I’ve created a couple of Shutterfly books already but have enough photos left to keep me busy for a long time. You’ve inspired get back to work on creating some more books.


  4. I have a lot of photos that need to be sorted, it will take a while….preserving the past for our children is certainly important. You are well ahead with this task…thanks for reminding me to get started sooner rather than later😄


  5. Retirement Reflections

    This is such a timely post for me. My husband and I have shoe boxes, bags and old photo albums filled with a variety of fading prints that we would hate to lose. Thanks for sharing these details and recommendations — very helpful!


  6. This is a really interesting idea I hadn’t considered. Although I’ve invested God-only-knows how many hours in scanning old photos, not to mention the new ones I keep adding, I hadn’t considered creating keepsake books.


  7. Thanks for this post. I need to check this out. I’ve used Flickr for years, but I have reservations since Verizon bought it. I’ve used Blurb in the past for printing. I’ve been happy with that, but this seems like it’s worth a look.


    1. Dan, if you like having printed photos in a bound book, Shutterfly is the way to go.Their print and paper quality is amazing. As with anything, I am sure there is always a risk that the company could stop supporting users or even go out of business. But, for now I am going to trust. I also keep my current photos on an external drive – just in case. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. When we made a cross country move, I took all my photos out of albums and got them down to four photo boxes and envelopes for the larger sizes. But, I still need to do something with them, the VHS tapes I have, and the thousands of digital photos. You gave me some good ideas here – thank you. 🙂


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