An arm with a white bucket on the left. A row of fish in the middle, on a dock. Some bare feet on the far right.

Whittle it Down, or Keep for Context?

In recent months, I have worked on two client projects to digitize 35mm slides.  Both involve 1980s slides that benefit from color restoration and occasional backlight correction.  Both involve family events, holidays, and trips.  One client limited her slide scanning to 133 images.  Another client has elected to scan over 900 slides so far.

Trees in the foreground, a river, and then yellow and green grasses on the far shore.

This river view, while dark, benefited significantly from color enhancement during slide scanning. The colors across the river really came alive after color enhancement was applied.

The client with 133 slides performed a culling of the slides before handing them over for scanning. She also divided them into four categories:  Christmas, River, Classic, and Glen Allen. Benefits of this approach:

  • client decides which images are most memorable
  • number of resulting images is not overwhelming
  • images have meaningful groupings

The client with 900+ slides provided them in the carousels, as stored by his parents. The carousels were labeled with year and event. He did not perform any culling and asked me to scan all of the images as-is. Advantages of this approach:

  • client is preserving the memories in their entirety and with context
  • images have meaningful groupings
  • different images may have different values to various family members

Is one way right, the other wrong? I don’t think so; both of these clients had sound reasoning for their approaches and no regrets. If you are preserving on behalf of yourself and others, consider not only what you want to retain, but what relatives might desire. Cost (if you are paying for the digitization) and time (if you are doing it yourself) are also factors.

The client with 133 slides shared her thoughts on preserving these memories:

“All slides were retrieved from the patriarch’s apartment, in good condition. Family members knew a majority of the hundreds of slides were scenery from vacations and were ready to dispose of them. I was curious and knew there had to be some photos of family members and special memories of places. It has been neat to see how the grandkids resemble their fathers at the same age. I’m excited to share the surprise with the family at my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday party, a little more than a year after her father passed away. Each family will get these precious memories on a CD and jump drive.”

“P.S. I am printing a few of my faves right now with Shutterfly!”

~Jill V., Henrico, VA (March 12, 2018)

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