The Dad Memorial Scanfest Marathon

I’ve been on a tear, scanning family photos, for Dad’s memorial – the printed program, slideshow, and to burn on CD to share among extended family. I wrote most of this post when I was near the end of Marathon session #2, over the Hallowe’en/All Saints weekend a week+ ago. Find the album, pull out the fotos, scan at super high resolution. Open Photoshop to crop and/or copy paste just the individual image into its own image file. All of this has me thinking about the best way to share and manage a huge photo collection. This is one of those “thinking out loud” post, most composed 10 days ago, with some follow-up comments from today.

It’s been a month since Dad died, and the memorial is set for this weekend. This has allowed us some time to breathe, and to give family members time to plan a trip here for Dad’s memorial. It’ll be a Great Gathering. The scanfest(s) are to prepare for it.

Even though Dad’s memorial is a week and a half away, at 2 weeks out I felt the tug of this scanfest project drawing to a close. It could go on forever. Seriously. There are so. many. more. pictures. (And slides. So many slides!)

But there are other things to do. These photos need to be resized from gargantuan full-resolution .tif  or .psd file to high-rez jpegs, then brought into MemoryMiner. Where I identify who-where-when for each photo. (Importing and cataloging over 200 pictures is too much to do in a stretch, so I’ve been taking it in batches)


Being a graphic designer, there are two illustrations I want to make for the Memorial itself—a kind of illustrated family tree, so people attending the memorial will know who’s who. And then a timeline and places that are we’ve been series of photos to illustrate the locales that comprise Dad’s life and our family vacation activities over the years. (Cabin in mountains. Boat; Catalina. Baja California). Road trips. There have to be pictures of the car, stuck in dirt, yes? Except that I haven’t run across those in my scanning. Well, okay, there’ll be a third scanning session, I think. (Update: We’ve reached that critical point where what I’d like to do crashes—hard—into reality and limited time.)

The cool thing about MemoryMiner is that you can identify the most important part of each photo—the people, the place, and the date the photo was taken. Once identified, it makes it very handy for family members. So this Mother of all Scans, Importing and ID-ing will be followed by a library export. The Memory Miner library will export the photo collection and all the information about each photo.  One DVD per cousin Burn the library to data DVDs for people, and hand them out. They will have to get MemoryMiner in order to make sense of it. But the good thing is that once they do so, they’ll want to arrange their own photo collection with the other family members that aren’t in my library. And they’ll have their own photos, too.


This brings up the matter of version control. Once I create and distribute this version, how do I tell the difference between this version and changes I make to it later? I can’t scan the whole of the Major Photo Archive and get it ready in time. I know I’ll do more of this in the future, though. I can see myself, say, next year, wanting to send out another updated “since I last exported” library update to family members. And I don’t think that there is a kind of built-in version control for that. I don’t yet know how I’ll approach this.

One of the reasons why I’m so gung-ho on scanning fotos is that first, the images are great to look at for remembering and reflecting. Second, though, they make great memory-triggers for the oral historian/story catchers in the midst who want to hear other recollections about Dad, and about things that they recall about us as a family.

What about you? Any tricks you have for how you’ve handled a big production for a reunion/funeral/memorial?

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 11, 2009 in • PersonalPhotographs
9 CommentsPermalink

« Previous One month ago: Hootenanny in the Hospital | Dad Memorial Scanfest, part 2: How we used the images Next »


Susan, I’m so sorry to hear about your father. :( I lost mine a little over a year ago.

What I did, since I was in the USA at the time (he was in Germany) and we have relatives and friends all over, is created a family & friends group on our site, uploaded them all into various groupings, then paired them with stories about my father. I gave all the people I wanted to access to the group, and they got on and added to it. It was WONDERFUL. We got stories about my dad that I never knew, reached out to people we hadn’t heard from in years, and it will stay up for anyone to access.

You know us, so you know that I tend to get very antsy/testy when I hear about awesome work like you’re doing going onto a DVD or even just someone’s laptop. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a horror story of DVD/tapes being lost or destroyed, books being lost or destroyed, harddrives crashing or being stolen etc. etc. I’d be a rich girl. You are very technically savvy, but most people are not. We need to gently remind them that although things online can be worrisome to some, it’s the best way for preservation.

I hope you and your family are doing ok through this dificult period. My thoughts are with you.

antje wilsch  on 11/23  at  12:49 PM

Thanks, Antje. The converse of the stories of lost DVDs is this: LOCKS—Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe.

When I give out copies of the photo library to relatives, I’ll be burning some 20-30 DVDs for different households. So the work gets distributed. Lots of copies of it keeps it safe. Sure, it’ll change as the library is adapted to different households, but I think that’s an excellent way to go.

I’m sure there are a whole number of ways I could distribute that info. But right now, downloading a 1 GB video file from my brother has been taking me 12 hours so far. So local work and burn to DVD and snail mail/shipping is more practical than my pokey so-called broadband connection. There’s no way I’d have the patience to do something like this online. No matter how you slice it, there’s gain, and there’s pain.


Susan A. Kitchens  on 11/23  at  01:02 PM

What we do is complementary to all that you mention, and online should be considered part of “LOCKS” smile

My concern is more about future generations. As an amateur genealogist, I find that it’s our “duty”, if you will, to ensure that we leave behind stuff for our future ancestors to find.

Re. large video files, I suggest compression. You can burn higher resolution files on a DVD (good for viewing on a large or HD TV) and compress the files for viewing online. I use Sony Vegas Movie Maker, but I’m sure other softwares have the ability too, to compress a 3GB file into a very small file (under 50mb) that’s still got decent viewing capability online.

I’m about preservation, but more about people being able to find the information too, later.  smile

antje wilsch  on 11/23  at  01:54 PM

PS sorry for the 2nd post. Forgot to ask - what scanner are you using for digitizng the slides? At the office we use the Kodak’s professional scanner - that thing is awesome, scans 50 photos in like 10 seconds - but not practical co$t for home use.

But would love input if you’ve found a great slide-to-digital converter? ~A

antje  on 11/23  at  02:44 PM

Hi Susan:

While I’m very sad for your loss, I’m also incredibly pleased to see my humble product put to such a valuable use. It was just the process of scanning and rearranging our family photo album after my dad passed that set me on this mission to create MemoryMiner.

I’m dying for you to put 2.0 through its paces with your new library. Rest assured, you’ll have a mechanism to collect and distribute changes as well.

Back to the grindstone for me, but I did want to stop by your corner of cyberspace to say hello.

John C. Fox  on 11/23  at  09:19 PM

@Antje—what scanner do I use? Nothing so lovely as yours. Mom and Dad were given one of those scanner/fax/printer/copier machines by Canon. When I set up a new iMac at the Homestead (so I could go there on a regular basis and help out and take a portable drive, not my whole computer setup), I set up that as-yet-unopened printer++. Hey, the photos are there, the scanner is there, the computer is there. Not fast, but it works.

As to a scanner for slides, no idea. I’m thinking of outsourcing that. But handing over fotos—especially originals—scares the you-know-what. No LOCKS there for that. Think I’d have to do it in batches, kinda like people at a corporation flying to a destination on different planes. Just. In. Case.

@John, yes, very valuable use indeed. When I show it to people, they say, “Cool”—all the moreso because it’s our relatives we’re looking at. So good to know that some kind of “new/old” photos and updates will be possible. Am lookin’ forward to 2.0, but please, seriously, none of that dyin’  for me to see it, okay? wink

Susan A. Kitchens  on 11/23  at  10:03 PM

Well that’s why I bring all my pics to work wink

I agree - I would never give anyone else all of my old photos unless I could watch them or something.

this one  is not too bad (I’d check Amazon for better prices) but the reason I say it interests me is because it has a guarantee (not even the Kodak scanner has that really, just a warranty) and altho why it’s showing a canadian flag there I have no idea!

Might be on my x-mas wish list this year smile

[edited by site admin so that long link wouldn’t go outta bounds]

antje wilsch  on 11/23  at  10:46 PM

hmmm… from the product description:

the touch of a button converts the image instantly and stores it on the converter’s 32 MB flash memory (which can store up to 56 pictures) as a JPEG file.

Nope, I like my file sizes biiiiiiiiig. This isn’t big enough.

Susan A. Kitchens  on 11/23  at  11:35 PM

that’s just on the harddrive. The flash drive is 4gb. plenty big.

“(4 GB microSD/miniSD/SD adapter card sold below will store up to 5,715 pictures)” - not sure if it lets you choose size or compression rate though.

I’m more leery of anything from Hammacher though. Seems they are like that Brookstone store - cool, overpriced stuff that breaks on you….

antje wilsch  on 11/23  at  11:56 PM

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