Family Films digitized

Around ten to fifteen years ago I had several old video tapes and Super 8 films converted to DVDs. This was because the Super 8 projector broke and was disposed of, and we understood that video tapes did not last for ever. These conversions saved the family films and travels from oblivion.

In the meantime, it has become clear that DVDs don’t last forever either. It was time to move on to the next level: convert everything to digital files. According to the experts, mp4 is the best format able to deal with any future changes.

Now that I am a professional photo organizer and am often confronted with this sort of issue through my clients and my membership of The Photo Managers, it has become a small step for me to take on board such a conversion project.

First, I made an inventory of everything. What have I got, what is the medium, and what is on it? If the latter was not evident from, for example, a title on the cover, then I used an old Super 8 viewer (that I had saved for that purpose) and an older MacBook with a DVD reader to inventorize everything. Luckily, the video tapes had titles, and some had already been converted to DVD.

The next step: determine which films should be ‘saved’ for future generations. Which are really worth the effort, such as the images of our life in Mozambique (even though they are a little blurred) and what not, such as a short film showing only well-known buildings in Florence. Old films are usually no longer of high quality, but old family films, however blurry, are worth keeping. Especially if they feature old street scenes. Images of earlier city trips are only fun if they feature people so that you can see how life was then. That was not the case with my Florence film.

The digitization

When it was clear for me which films should be digitized§, I took several video tapes to Trigger in Amsterdam, my professional partner for digital conversions. During the last conference of The Photo Managers, I met fellow photo organizer and conversion expert, Becky Ball. She was prepared to help me with the DVDs remotely. I was able to convert the DVDs to mp4 files using the appropriate programs. Trigger could have done that, but I like doing small collections myself, if it at all possible. I don’t want to become a conversion specialist, but I think that it is important to know what is needed and what is possible.

I am very happy that I have finished my own project. Everything has been examined, and the most important images are ‘safe’. All my mp4 files are now stored on an external hard disk that I have called ‘BeeldBank Massaro’ (Image Bank Massaro). And of course they are also stored on two back-ups.I have thrown away most of the old video tapes, Super 8 films and DVDs. I have saved only a few as ‘vintage’ examples.

I have still got two large reels of Super 8 films that I had previously not had converted to DVD. I was not sure then that I wanted them converted. They feature a trip around the USA and a trip to Egypt (all the cultural locations). I think that they are a bit boring because at that time I was trying to make real ‘documentaries’. And besides, I’ve also got nice photo albums (scrapbooks) of the trips. I will firstly review them with a Super 8 viewer, and then decide whether they can stay, and let Trigger convert them to mp4 files.

So … do you still have:

  • Old (family) films: 8 mm, 9,5 mm, 16 mm, Super 8?
  • Video tapes: VHS, S-VHS en VHS-C, Video 8, Hi8, Digital 8, miniDV, DVD?
  • Professional tapes such as V2000, Betamax, Betacam, Digital Betacam, DV large, HDV, DV Cam, XD Cam, Umatic, DVC Pro 25, or DVC Pro 50?
  • Slides (in frames or not): 24×26 mm, 16×24 mm, 6 x 6 cm, 4 x 4 cm, or glass (lantern) slides?
  • DVDs with films or photos?
  • Negatives: 35-mm (24×36), APS, 16×30, pocket 13×17, half frame (16×24), glass plate negatives, Instamatic negatives, Kodak disc negatives or flat film negatives?

If so, then I would be pleased to help you sorting out what should be digitized! And taking care that that actually happens.

By the way, I also bring large collections of analogue photos to Trigger for digitizing. Small numbers I do myself with a special photo scanner, but for large collections or a client’s large album I go to the professionals. Do you want your photos digitalised and do you still have most of the negatives? Consider having the negatives scanned. They are after all your negatives. Small numbers of negatives I can do myself, but larger collections and unusual formats I let Trigger do.

I am going to have the negatives of our time in Mozambique scanned, where the photos have all gone brown. Then I can make a beautiful photo album of the photos in their original colours.

The story of the poster

The story of the poster – Erik Kessels at the TMP Conference 2022 in Denver

April 2022.

In 2017 I saw in a street near our Airbnb in Turin an exhibition by Erik Kessels. About photos. Photos?? I had decided that year to focus on photo organizing and just before our trip to Italy I had rented a place in a studio where I could hatch my plans. So I definitely wanted to see that exhibition – I was already a fan of Erik Kessels’ work as a creator of special marketing projects.

The exhibition (‘The many lives of Erik Kessels‘) turned out to contain everything that I had in mind as a photo organizer: collecting and selecting photos, searching, working out the stories behind photos, appreciating what Kessel calls ‘vernacular photos’ and ultimately doing something attractive and fun with the photos.  The exhibition also featured Erik Kessels’ depiction of the chaos of photographs that are posted on the internet every day (’24hours’).  He has turned his interest in vernacular (amateur) photographs into an artform.  Everything was an inspiration for me. I bought the poster of the exhibition and that was the first thing that I hung on the wall in my studio in Leiden – and it still inspires me. Just like the photos that I took of the exhibition itself; I still use them in my PR communications (naturally I had asked the agency (KesselsKramer) for permission).

I started adding photo organizing to my business.  Having followed several courses, I collaborate with fellow organizers (FON), I regularly give workshops, and I now have clients both in Netherlands and abroad. I have been since 2017 a member of The Photo Managers (TPM), a large community in the USA that takes photo organization to the next level, and where I acquire a lot of inspiration and know-how. I attended two virtual TPM conferences in 2020 and 2021 and I recently attended this year’s conference in Denver ‘in person’. During the virtual conference in 2021, I talked to a colleague, Isabelle Dervaux, another fan of Erik Kessels’ work, and we cooked up what we considered a very good idea – to get Erik Kessels to speak at the next conference.

I contacted his agency and Erik Kessels himself quickly replied – he also thought it would be a nice idea! After some conversations via Zoom, it became clear: he was to be the first keynote speaker of the conference in March 2022, in Denver. Via Zoom, but still.

That day, March 24th, was a beautiful and proud moment for me, together with Isabelle Dervaux, to announce Erik Kessels’ keynote speech. His presentation was wonderful. The room (with 120 photo organizers) responded with much appreciation and laughter, as in addition to being brilliant, his original way of looking at (amateur) photos is also funny.

In the days following the presentation, many photo organizers came up to me and thanked me for being instrumental in them getting to know Erik Kessels’ work.

Geplaatst in: Blog