Most families do a fine job planning to pass on their material possessions, even though deciding who gets what can be very difficult. But families rarely make a plan for passing on family photos and videos, even though digital technology means that everyone in the family can have a USB or DVD copy.
FACT: Less than 5% of American families have digitally secured their photos and videos.
FACT: There are over one trillion un-digitized photos and videos in America.
The cost of scanning old photos and transferring videos to digital usually represents a fraction of a percent of the value of an estate. Giving every member of your family a DVD, hard drive, private website, custom book or edited video of your family’s history is truly priceless. Whether you do this work yourself, or set aside some money for the digitizing project in your will, you will have done a blessing for your family.
EverPresent works with thousands of families every year passing on family memories across generations, and we’ve learned a few things about how to do it right.
1) DON’T TRUST A SINGLE STORAGE METHOD:
DVDs are going away. Hard drives can break. Computers can melt down. We always recommend getting your digital images onto 2-3 different types of storage device for your family.
2) DON’T TAKE FOR GRANTED THAT YOUR FAMILY KNOWS WHAT YOU KNOW:
Your children will want to know their great grandparents’ names, what they did and where they came from. Taking an extra few hours to write down some notes and basic captions can turn a disc of photos into a legacy for generations.
3) DON’T PROJECT YOUR OWN INTERESTS ON YOUR FAMILY:
Families visit us all the time to scan thousands of pictures of their children but none of themselves or their ancestors. And then we meet the children, and their top priority is scanning photos of their parents and ancestors. Especially when budget only allows you to tackle a piece of the photo and video collection, we recommend talking to your family to see what interests them the most.
4) DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS:
80% of photos never leave a digital camera. You may have dozens of old hard drives, SD cards and miscellaneous discs around the house. Just because they happen to be digital does not mean they are safe. Ditto for any photos you have online or on your computer that may be protected by a password nobody else knows. These photos should be consolidated as part of your plan. Learn more about our digital organizing services.
5) DON’T BE LIMITED TO EXISTING MATERIALS:
As you think about the hundreds or thousands of photos and videos in front of you, it’s natural to think that there’s more than enough there. But that doesn’t mean your grandchildren know how you met. Perfection is often the enemy. The value of taking out a tape recorder or a pad of paper and just jotting down a few important stories or notes about the family can become the most important piece of the collection.
6) IF YOU’RE INTERESTED, LEAVE ROOM IN THE BUDGET TO TELL A STORY:
It’s absolutely reasonable to have the following position—if I leave a budget to convert everything to digital for everyone and jot down a few notes, I’ve done my part. Many of our clients feel this way, and rightfully so. That said, if you are interested in telling your story more comprehensively, you should leave time and budget for it. Scanning and converting the huge collection of photos and videos and turning it into a family photo book or video that has a bit of editing around it is a beautiful thing that will live in the family for generations.
The beauty of making a plan for your photos and videos (and letters, documents and more) as part of your estate is that budget does not need to be a huge point of stress. While many EverPresent clients invest over $10,000 in this project, a project that costs under $500 can be wonderful. Whether scanning 100 photos or 10,000 slides, memories are preserved, and legacies are shared across generations.
ABOUT EVERPRESENT: We are a team of 40 New England based organizers, technicians and designers who work with families to pass history across generations. All of our digitizing and design work is done locally. We meet with clients in their homes or in our stores throughout New England. We have digitized millions of photos and videos, and never lost one. We are truly the best at what we do, and would be honored to work with your family on this very important project.