You have probably heard this before so I’m going to say it again.
If you are like me you probably have a ton of photographs and slides sitting in boxes or in memory albums. From time to time you might even take them out and look at them. In my case, I still have a small stack of photos of my late wife to digitize. In my parents case, they have a box full of slides from the 70’s back who knows how many decades. All of them are subject to damage from water, fire, natural disasters like your 2 year old son and your brand new puppy.
Now, your first thought is going to be "I have all my photos on my hard drive of my computer." Good start; hard drives last on average two (2) years. Try again.
But I have duplicates on a drobo raid array right next to my computer that has all my photos on it, too. Great, when the theives come they can take them both.
But I have them on on DVD and just to be safe I put them in my safe deposit box at my bank. Getting better. Did you back up the images from the last three (3) months? Oops!
In the past you’ve heard me talk about the value of services like Photoshelter. Even if you don’t plan to sell your photographs, they are a great back up service. They also make a great way to display you photos in a way that isn’t flickr (yes, I have a flickr account, too, just like everyone else on the planet).
So that takes care of your digital assets. What about your slides and printed photographs – you know, the ones that came from film? These have to be scanned to digital format - usually JPEG, sometimes they can do TIFFs. This is a pricey adventure whether you buy your own scanner and do it yourself or you have them professionally scanned. The real question is how much is you time worth to you? For me the answer is clear: a lot!
Because of that, I chose to take mine to Colormark, a local printing and scanning company here in metro Phoenix. (Doesn’t hurt that they are right next to Photomark, my favorite store for curing NAS – Nikon Acquisition Syndrome!) I have history with Colormark so using their service isn’t a big risk for me. Finding a service in your area might be more of a challenge. I suggest you takes some samples to have scanned and make sure you like the results.
If you can’t find one locally, you can try the Internet and here I can offer no advice. I have never used an online scanning company. All I can say is do your research, ask your local camera stores, and send samples.
Bottom line: backup, backup, backup and keep a set off-site.