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Saving Slides from the Purgatory of The Garage

My parents have always been the adventurous type. You could say that adventure has defined their entire relationship. They met while hiking at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, fell in love and were soon married. They then scrimped and saved so they could take a year-long honeymoon traveling in Europe and the Middle East. This was the mid-1970s and 35mm slide film was the least expensive way to take photos. You didn’t have to get prints made from slide film to see your images and most people actually had slide projectors and screens, or at least a white sheet to tack up, at home.




Although my parents had been fairly well organized about listing the dates and locations of these slides from the early part of their lives together, the slides began to languish in their carousels and small cardboard boxes from the processing lab. Eventually the whole slide collection was stacked in a milk crate and placed in the garage along with other usurped media like their vinyl albums. The slide projector and screen were sold or cast off and then the slides were basically forgotten.


A few years ago when I was home for a visit, I took a closer look at the condition of the slides. I was relieved the crate of slides had at least been moved from the very unstable environment of the garage into a spare bedroom, but I was alarmed by evidence of water damage and some mold spots on the carousel boxes. It appeared that the slides themselves had not been damaged by water or mold but they were certainly dusty from their years of purgatory in the garage.


What past, and possibly forgotten, adventures had the slides captured? Wouldn’t it be thrilling to find out again and be able to view them all together on a large screen again? It was finally time to rescue these slides from their previous fate and have them digitized.




First the slides need to be taken out of the various boxes and the large plastic carousels and then placed into zip top bags carefully labeled with the original dates and location information. The scanning lab would transfer this information onto the batches of digital files. During this step many slides were discarded if it was obvious after a quick glance that the image was blurry, a duplicate, or of some unidentifiable scenery. This drastically cut down on the ultimate number of slides to scan. The slides that made the final cut were shipped off to a reliable scanning vendor.


Within a couple of weeks the slides were returned along with a DVD of the high-quality scans. I was so excited to see that not only were all the travel pictures revived and brought back to life, but there were so many photos of my childhood that I had never seen.


I know I will be having some of these rescued photos printed and framed very soon!


Do you have slides that you have saved or that need saving?  Tell us about it in the comments, we’d love to hear your story!


Sign up today for more ways to save your photos directly in your email box.


We also invite you to visit our sister blog The Photo Organizers for more tips and in-depth knowledge from some of the top photo organizing industry professionals.


To find a photo organizer near you, visit the Association of Personal Photo Organizers.



Meaghan Kahlo, Personal Archivist and Certified Personal Photo Organizer, began her professional life with graduate work in museum studies focused on collections management. Her enthusiasm for photography and historical preservation combined with a passion to organize and create order are the driving forces behind her business, Ephemera Photo Organizing. Meaghan helps clients transform the ephemeral nature of digital and printed images into meaningful photo solutions for today and for generations to come tomorrow.




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