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P is for Polaroid. L is for Lost.

A long time ago, my husband worked for Polaroid. Portions of my kid’s childhood are frozen in those shiny plastic images. Part of the fun was watching them develop. The plastic makes it difficult to write information on them so you know what I’m going to say.

It’s a photo saving nightmare.

At the outdoor market near me, where the world shops, there are vendors with old tools, musical instruments, and basically everything that we can discard. Including Polaroids.

A man asked a vendor, “How much?”  He was pointing to a box full of Polaroids. There were maybe a hundred of them in there. He had another batch of about fifty in his hands. The amount was too much for his wallet.

I couldn’t tear myself away from the interaction. My mind was reeling. Of course, I know that folks discard slides.  That’s why on Instagram there are whole feeds full of “Lost Slides of …” You fill in the blank. I follow several of them curious to see what’s being discarded around the globe.

Seeing that box of images and hearing the negotiations had me frozen in spot. It made me sad.  Deeply disturbed that it’s not just old photos from the nineteenth century and early to mid-twentieth century being discarded. Now it’s pictures from years in which I’ve lived.

There is a website on Found Polaroids. They’ve even published a book of photos that they’ve found. Makes me nuts that this pictorial heritage is like a game of lost and found. Here’s the really crazy part.

Some of the pictures on this website have dates and captions.

Yet they were still thrown out. Before this happens to my Polaroids I’m going to do the following:

Label Them

We have them stored in special albums that accommodate the image size with captions underneath, but that’s not enough. The caption can be separated from the image. Using a zig marker, I’m going to write on the white border of the image.

Scan Them

I have scans of all my “old pictures” but now that terminology has new meaning. Time passing is reality. Putting off until tomorrow what you can do today may result in family tossing your images. Really!

Scan them at a minimum of 600 dpi Tiff.  You can always resize them for posting on the web.

Share Them

My children are going to get photo books of their childhood. They don’t know it yet.

Our first house. We had a church pew on the front porch. A picnic table made by my Dad in the backyard. Lots of stories to tell.

I’m going to curate a selection that represents my favorite pictures and write some longer captions to go with them. I’ve used Snapfish.com in the past, but you can use the photo printer you like too.

Once I have them scanned, it’s easy to digitally organize and share them. I use MemoryWeb.me.  You can tag your photographs with names, places, dates, and even link them to others.  You can share your images in the app with folks that don’t have it.  I sent my two nieces images from Easter and a baby shower.  They didn’t have to do anything to see them except view the pictures.

MemoryWeb is a photo organizer for genealogists. Try it and see. Mention my name when registering and you’ll receive a 14-day free trial.

In full disclosure, I receive a percentage of the sales, but I rarely promote a product. This one is app that I can’t stop talking about. I hope you’ll agree. Try it for two weeks. You’ve got nothing to lose, except your own family history.