How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

IS a Picture WORTH a Thousand Words?


I started an overwhelming project last summer with no progress since. Today, again I begin to scan several generations of family memories from my mother’s photo collections. The goal is to finish before Christmas—I hope.

Why undertake this gargantuan task? My mom passed away a year and a half  ago; to be fair to everyone (we are five siblings), I believe everyone is entitled to her own DVD copy of our history in pictures. Whoever takes the originals once the work is completed is fine with me. I’m certain my mother’s grandchildren will also be tickled when a surprise DVD arrives.

Such an undertaking is an excellent idea (of course it is; it’s  mine), but, is not as straightforward as it sounds. I am dealing with photo albums consisting of cardboard pages with sticky backing to hold pictures in place and a clear (plastic) sheet, which is peeled back to insert pictures and pulled over top  again to protect them from air, dust and possibly sticky fingers.


  • Over time, between the  plastic cover and glossy finish on colour photos, a stickiness occurs gumming them together–separate gently
  • If pictures have been ‘attached’ for years,  they won’t unstick easily and must be removed deligently from cardboard backing as well
  • Do not mess up scanner bed with sticky photos
  • Clean first
  • What is the best product to clean gummy pictures without ruining them?
  • Vinegar with water doesn’t  work well
  • A careful dab of nail polish remover sometimes does the trick if sticky area is small
  • Sometimes Goo Gone works (in small areas)
  • Be obsessivelycareful: rinse cleaning product off and allow to dry well (wasting more time)
  • When gumminess is stubborn = frustration and waste of precious time
  • Patience is a virtue (So where is it?)
  • Have a directory tree planned for DVD
  • Lift up cover on scanner
  • Place photo inside; make sure it’s straight
  • Scan to organized directory
  • Open scanner, remove picture
  • Be careful not to scratch scanner bed with fingernails 
  • Use another photo corner to pop picture off the glass
  • Position back into album
  • If photo doesn’t stick, roll a tube of clear tape around a finger and mash onto back of photo to reposition onto cardboard in album
  • If clear sheet protector doesn’t stick back down again, ignore it and continue
  • Each step takes time. What? Only three pictures in fifteen minutes?  #@%>&.
  • Why are some photos taped together, corner to corner? Oh, I see: to keep them from sliding because the sticky backing isn’t sticky anymore. #@%>&.

 This scanning drudgery is not for the faint of heart.  After about an hour, in addition to developing a headache, I feel dizzy. The bottom line–and the honest truth–is I find scanning  monotonous, nerve-wracking and unfulfilling.

Ah–only 999,999,999 pictures to go. I believe I can do this. In the interest of chronicling our tribe for future generations, I can do this. I know I can. I think I can…

Wait a minute—did I mention which Christmas my task will be completed?

Who the heck are the people in this picture–must e-mail  to siblings…

About these ads

Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

67 thoughts on “IS a Picture WORTH a Thousand Words?

  1. HA HA HA! I feel your pain. When my mom was dying with cancer, we went through all the pictures. I removed them, scanned them, sorted them and then made them into Scrapbooks for each person (their own pics like school photos…). Had a great time with Mom and she loved the finished results. Everyone got DVDs of all the pictures. It took me about 9 months to complete. I finished the one of my brother (who had died 2 years before) about 2 weeks before mom died, and she went through it over and over before joining him on the other side. It is well worth the effort, but it is TEDIOUS to say the least! I hope you make it to this Christmas – great presents. YOU CAN DO IT!!!! :)

    • Thank you for your uplifting words, Angie. I believe your endeavour was bigger than mine; at least I’m not making up physical albums.

      Tedious, yes but I am looking forward to the feeling accomplishment will present. You’ve given me a burst of energy.

  2. My sister (the one that doesn’t live with me now) did this for our siblings after my parents passed away. Reading your account of the process doubles and triples my appreciation for her efforts, especially since all I have to do today is locate the DVD and pop it into my computer in order to view the pictures.

    Wishing you many weeks of virtuous patience as you make your way through the photo albums. Which Christmas? Well, the one that follows the last picture, of course. Good luck!

    • Thanks, 99. I had no idea sharing this plan of mine might convey stories of others attempting similar projects. It goes to show you, no man / woman is an island. I’m not as original as I thought. Ha ha.

    • Thanks, 99. Already I feel a lot better having received lovely encouragement from the blogosphere and my goal is THIS Christmas. I simply must remember to (force) myself to scan for a couple of hours every day.

  3. Ahh Tess this project I know all too well. The first time I did something like this was before home scanners. I took negatives to have photo reprints printed, I took photos without negatives and had negatives made. I did enlargements and created three archival safe scrapbooks, two for brothers and one for me.

    Now I am in the process of doing what you are doing digitally for our daughters and their children. They’ll get DVD’s and there will be no concern about archival safe.
    I’m adding digital scrapbooking too so that I can add some journaling for certain photos. I think we may be a bit tweaked to undertake this project.
    There were so many photos my inlaws had of things like their boat, the fish they caught, the deer, etc,, I began being more choosey in what I picked,

    It’s going to feel so good when it’s all done… right? :-)

    Have a wonderful weekend my friend~ BB

    • Thanks BB. I can’t imagine the time BEFORE scanners. How long did it take you and then the expense of it all! I’d say THAT is an overwhelming project.

      I know I will be well pleased when the work is done but I so dislike being on a clock, although, if I don’t set a goal, I won’t accomplish anything.

      Thanks for sharing your project.

    • Nasty. What a prolonged process for you! I’m glad I simply have photos to scan. I’m surprised not to hear you’re not cross-eyed, studdering aimlessly and in the poor house.

  4. Wow what a challenge to take on but how rewarding, you are lucky to have so many photos!

  5. Pictures are so potent they can preserve memories and bring them back in a way words can’t manage, but it is a pain in the you know what to switch them from one medium to an other. As soon as your done you will find it was worth the effort – not before! ;)

  6. You’re a brave, brave woman! May the force be with you…

  7. I think what you’re doing is commendable.
    And it will be a source of many happy times once done, even if it takes you a while ;-)
    Wish I had a scanner – would love to get all the paper photo’s scanned into the computer!

  8. A noble project! I “stole” all of my mom and dad’s photos that were moldering in a beat-up cardboard box and surprised them for their 65th wedding anniversary with all of the treasured photos in an album. It took HOURS. HOURS I tell ya! So, I know what you are up against.

    Oh, and I think the gentleman in the middle is your Uncle Albert. I’m the girl on his right.

    • Whew. I knew if I put the word out there, SOMEone would tell me who’s who. Mystery solve and I shall move forward.

      Aren’t you the sneaky daughter for stealing the cardboard box of photos but I am impressed about your noble intent. I can imagine how time-consuming the work must have been.

      I believe the most difficult part for me was figuring out how to create a user-friendly directory tree. Now I must be patient and simply follow through.

  9. Great idea, I now have a task to do before Christmas too. My other task is to get the background of the photos from my mum, CS

    • Great to hear you’re on the bandwagon and that you still have your mom to get background. I waited too late and now we’re doing a lot of guesswork or filing pictures like the one in my post to Unknowns.

      Good luck in YOUR endeavour.

  10. I feel you! I have thousands of slides, my dads and my granddads. Hundreds of photos as well. I also have 8mm movies going back more than 50 years. Some day I will get them all, some day.

    In the meantime, well a bit at a time.

    • Oh my, Valentine. I feel for YOU. I only have photos to deal with and not 8mm movies too. My son-in-law’s mother had some home movies converted some time ago but it’s expensive but important.

      • There is actually a piece of equipment you can buy that will convert for you, it is very expensive. I am looking at one that will do slides and photos, it is also very expensive but might will be worth the price. I am trying to convince some of my siblings they should contribute $$ and I will do all the work.. so far, they are cheap.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with you that siblings should contribute monitarily–all the work AND expense too wouldn’t be fair. At least I only need to convert (scan) photos.

  11. Hi Tess,
    My brother has been doing the scanning of al the family photos for some years now. Every year for Christmas we know we will get a DVD of family photos, the latest material. HE IS OUR HERO! He is saving important family stories, records, treasures. It is gold for future generations. You are doing such a service for your family.

  12. That is a huge task. Can you not cheat a little though by scanning whole pages from the albums instead of taking individual photos out? Then in a graphics package you can crop out each photo and save them as individual photos? They might not look quite as clean as your current method, but if it gets to the point where you’re considering abandoning the project because it is so long and painstaking…

  13. I think that’s a very worthwhile enterprise (if huge!) I love the expression of the guy in the middle ‘What me! With THEM!’

  14. LOL! I was going to ask WHICH Christmas you were hoping to get this done by, but I think you beat me to it (although not sure you answered the question), which is good because it’s your post, your task. And oh yes, the “procedure” – how, um… well. you said it. Monotonous, boring, time consuming. But hey, I’m sure when you’re all done, the DVDs will be so wonderful, and then you will never have to deal with sticky, gummy pictures with plastic sheet coverings that no longer work. Good luck – stick with it! ha ha, no pun intended. ;)

  15. What a fascinating project. I remember older family albums from my grandparents day, but have no idea where the pictures ended up. I now need to “digitalize” all my own photos from when my daughters were small, a daunting project because we have a dozen or more of those albums full of photos.

    I’ve never tried scanning – how do you scan a small standard sized photo and get it to show up larger on the computer screen? I need to figure that out before anything else. Or do I need to create pages with several photos on each page? Are there computer programs for that? Or special scanners that scan only one photo? Any advice would be welcome. :)

    • The problem with scanning small photos and having them appear large is you lose resolution. It’s always easier doing the opposite. I wouldn’t try it because I don’t believe any amount of photoshopping is going to solve the problem. I’m scanning my pictures one at a time. Not only does it cut down later work of what others have mentioned about photoshopping (I don’t know much about this program), I can set the best resolution and each picture should be the size as it was scanned.

      My scanner is a Canon and it scans one picture at a time and it cost less than $100. As well, it converts documents to Adobe .pdf. I’m not knowledgeable enough to give much advice, though. Usually, the less bells and whistles a program has, the more user friendly it is but that’s only in my experience. Hope of of this helps? I’m better versed in problems than how to fix them–I can whine with the best of them. Nice to hear from you Judee. I’s been a while. Of course I’ve been somewhat absent of late.

      • Thank you so much for the info on scanning. I’m going to see if I can find a scanner like you mentioned, I’m almost sure I saw one awhile back, but didn’t think I had use for it. I’m very good at missing stuff like that and only noticing it later. ;)

        As for absence, I’ve been very absent for awhile now. I think sometimes we just need that. Though I hope to get back into blogging and reading on a more regular basis. (Hmm, when have I said that before??) :)

  16. To answer your question, absolutely! My sister and I made a photo CD of my grandfather when he passed away last year. We scanned them, edited them to make the pictures clearer, and made copies for all of his close family and friends.

    We gathered pictures from my grandma, mom, aunts, uncles, his son, various grandchildren, etc. A lot of them had information on the back, which was useful. My scanner at home is probably as monotonous as yours. I have one at work that is amazing, though. If you are going to be doing a lot of photos you might want to look into something like the Fujitsu Scan Snap S1500. It scans super fast, with great detail, and it can scan documents into Word, Excel, PDF, etc.

    • I can’t recall the model, but my Canon sounds like the Fujitsu. The hardest and most annoying part of the job is getting the photos out of the albums and then getting the goop off before scanning. Ho hum.

  17. Oh, the complications of such a marvelous idea! I hope you get it done by Christmas–but, even better–I hope you stick with it regardless of when it is officially completed. Knowing where one comes from is such a treasure.

    Also, I wanted to send this to my mother–since she has been trying to attack the same project for my fathers family who just lost my grandmother–but you don’t have an email share button. Would you consider putting one on your posts?

    • Thanks buckets. You are so NICE. I don’t know where / how an e-mail button gets to be had (doesn’t this sound stuffy?). I’m having trouble with my current e-mail only in ‘sending’ out messages. I’ve been blocked and I’ve given up on MSN. No help there and they’re who blocked me. I have setup a new e-mail addy:

      I plan to switch from current email but am afraid of complications.

      Thanks for forwarding to your mom. Happy scanning.

      • Share buttons (including the one for email) are located under SETTINGS on your blog-dashboard’s side bar. Click the SHARING button and it will lead you to the Sharing Settings page. The top of your page will show options for connecting your blog to facebook & twitter, etc. Immediately below that are the share buttons. By dragging these buttons to the gray box on the right, then pushing save, you will be setting up your blog with more ways for your readers to make use of what you’ve written.

        The email button will allow anyone who wants to send your published post to a friend to simply push the email button, type in the email of that person they want it to be delivered to and hit send. None of this would go to your email or require your participation at all. If you are not interested, that’s fine, but I just wanted to make you aware of some of your options. :)

      • I guess all WP themes don’t carry all the same buttons. Drat!

      • Oh, that stinks. Oh, well.

      • I’ll get over it when all’s done and gone.

    • You are correct in saying, I persevere whether I finish by Christmas or not, however, if I don’t stick to my timeline, I’m afraid I’ll end up screaming while running away. Ha ha.

  18. That is awesome
    What a great memory to pass on to the generations

  19. Well isn’t this an interesting one! I too lost my mother 19 months ago and we had boxes of photos we had planned on going through together. At her funeral family members decided to pass on boxes they had been saving for us and one cousin had me come to her house and scan in 1 album of 2 branches with over 950 photo’s and over 300 family documents (took me 3 days to do with her help & I’m still finding them in the weirdest places on my computer) They were GLUED to the black paper and I just scanned the complete sheets carefully to be photo shopped later….so I too now have 999999999 photos.
    I too had the same plan step: 1 Scan step, 2 DVD, Step 3 work on family tree and place all in albums related to tree… By October last year I had scanned my brothers and his kids photos, lost half of them in the cyberspace that is this machine and sat down and wrote a new plan.Then I discovered the other boxes in a closet and 95% have no documentation and the oldest ones go back to 1860 (Holy mother of Pete!) In the fog of war nothing ever goes as planned and the fog of grief only makes it 100K worse! The plan you ask?…

    Organized hard copys into family branches (check)
    Scan and document persons known and APPROXIMATE year (check)
    Arrange by year into file folders.(check)
    Forget the fricking albums and get it done -(it’s nice to see how she had them arranged but for the love of Pete the replacing them is just too much and my great great grand children probably won’t think it’s so cute)
    Do a location of the familys on a map for each album
    Christmas 2011….HA!
    I pulled the ones of Christmas’s at Mom’s and that’s what they got along with bereavement necklaces….

    The plan now? Get “a Family” per year done.
    Just to be on the safe side….
    I explained the boxes and organization to my daughter on her visit in March this year, including what the contents of each box have in them and the notebooks put together with the documentation and said “Honey, if I die before I get this done…this is what I need you to get done for your children and cousins….”

    Thanks for the post so very much!!!!!! Look at all of us! Now I don’t feel like I’m TOTALLY insane anyway! Also spurs me to get going again since I now have a new scanner!

    • Thank so much for sharing. Nice to hear your outline for the work. Indeed this must be a labour of love, otherwise how could anyone get through it? Your project is much bigger than mine and I feel for you–but support you wholeheartedly. What a mindbloggling task. Do let me know how you’re progressing. Since my post, bragging how I was knee-deep in scanning, I’ve aready missed two days–life simply keeps getting in the way.

  20. I would rather be shot than do this. I have thousands of loose pictures and at least 12K in albums. And that is before you get to the 3-400 CD of pictures. And then, well, there is the hard drive which is nothing but pictures and the 3K on my telephone…did I mention I am a shutter bug?

  21. Sounds like something I need to get working on, too. I have accumulated all of my grandmother’s genealogy research and am attempting to put it into a database. Slowly, very slowly, I am making headway. But the pictures are so delicate, valuable, and time-consuming, so I haven’t scanned more than a dozen of the first few generations. Good luck! It will feel so good when you finish!

  22. Tess, my mom is 89. Last time we were down there we went through her things, which was totally horrible for me, but needed to be done for her. I came up with a loose spreadsheet of what goes where. I am constantly amazed at the fragmenting which happens in the family structure when an older person passes away. A friend of mine has watched her family literally splinter over what picture goes where, and what ring belongs to who. Perhaps its better to stage it ahead of time. It’s never a good time I would guess.

    • I agree with you. The trouble is sometimes we realize too late what will be lost if we don’t get the lead out NOW and soon NOW become too late. Nice to hear from you. Your spreadsheet idea is intriguing. At least your mom was able to fill in the blanks for you?

  23. I am so glad you dropped in and peeked in my window today. I sooooo relate. I have recently taken on the role as family curator, which of course I took to heart and not only volunteered to host this year’s reunion, I’ve spent the last 5 months putting our 5 decades of photographic memories on disc. Scanning SUCKS! LOL. But..that said, and because it’s over with, I’m so glad I took the time to do it. Wow…what stories these photos tell. I hope you had/have the same revelation post-scan…it’s been a hell of a journey back.

  24. I have already done this with all my family pics.. a lot of work, but worth it in the end!
    Good luck to you.

  25. What a tedious task! But a lovely photo! And many more oh dear …:) … :)

  26. Lol! Precisely why I still haven’t got down to doing this yet :-(

    • Between you and me–you won’t tell anyone–I’ve been slacking off on the scanning, Madhu. It’s so BORING; my brain goes into neutral and I find it hard to rev it up again… Will keep plugging, though.

I'm all ears. Tell it like it is.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,141 other followers