Safeguarding Scrapbooks from the Past Using Flip-Pal

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[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal ambassador Carrie Keele shares her techniques for scanning photos from old scrapbooks and albums.]

Over the river and through the woods (literally), to Great-Grandma Lois’ house we go! My husband’s mother’s, mother, Lois (Jeppson Hatch) Wells lives in a cabin in the mountains. From the main highway, you cross an ancient, wooden, rickety bridge (with only room for one car at a time) with no guardrails. Each time we cross, I half expect this is the time it will finally give way to the river below. A dirt road with sharp switchbacks leads to the cabin that the Hatchs built in the 70s. The familiar flamingo pink trimmed balcony brings a smile to your face and stirs memories of summers past.

Everyone loves Grandma’s house. Removed from technology with only one (corded) white telephone to reach the outside world, you can literally breath deeper. Life moves just a little slower and there’s more time for conversations and memory sharing. Last summer we had the chance to stay at the cabin for several days as family gathered to celebrate Lois’ 90th birthday party.

During this visit I realized that while Lois was quite healthy and active for her age, she was slowing down. She has stories to tell and memories to share that I want my kids to remember.  Using my iPhone I recorded several impromptu interviews and cherished the stories.  We also explored her bookshelves upon bookshelves lined with old picture albums. She has hundreds of pictures from years past, most of them being non-archival, sticky albums. You know the ones that we all used until we realized it’s a black hole that slowly disintegrates your precious memories.

Since I hadn’t planned on doing anything more than celebrating with family, I did not bring my Flip-Pal with me. No matter, I thought. I’ve got a great digital SLR … I’ll capture the pictures with my camera. Ummmmm, easier said than done. I tried three different locations and numerous angles but was never completely satisfied with the glare, distortion, blur, etc. (If you have ever tried to take pictures of pictures in albums, you’ll know exactly what I mean.) I even tried to jimmy rig my tripod to make it work. I ended up with a few okay pictures, but nothing that was nearly as good as the original. I’m almost too embarrassed to post the proof!

Safeguarding Scrapbooks from the Past using Digital Capture with Flip-Pal Technology

Oh yes, there are more.  I really wanted some decent shots!

Safeguarding Scrapbooks is important to preserve family history

Learn from my failures, don’t do it the hard way!

Just a few weeks ago we spent a day with Lois on the way to Washington for a family vacation. This time I came prepared with my trusty Flip-Pal mobile scanner. Much to the delight of my mother, AKA Dear MYRTLE, I couldn’t wait to grab some albums and try it out.. My mom snapped these pictures while I happily scanned. I loved that I could easily sit and chat with the family while scanning away. I didn’t need to worry about lighting or even devoting my attention to capturing the pictures.

Safeguarding Scrapbooks from the Past Using Flip-Pal


The best part? The look on Lois’ face as she watched me use this mysterious gadget. Remember, technology has not touched this cabin in the woods. The one computer that was purchased for her years ago sits untouched upstairs covered by a towel. (I think it has Windows 95 on it!) and is only used once a year to write a family Christmas letter. I explained to her that the Flip-Pal is a scanner that uses batteries to operate. With the touch of a button and about 5 seconds is all it takes to get a beautiful scan. And that it intuitively “stitches” pictures together so I could easily scan whole pages of her albums. She shook her head in amazement at this world that we live in. While she mostly scoffs at technology and the “waste of time” it is and how impersonal it is, she actually said, “Well, isn’t that is a great little tool!”

Safeguarding Scrapbooks from the Past with Scanners

So next time you head to Grandma’s with interest in safeguarding scrapbooks from the past make sure to pack your Flip-Pal as you never know when it will come in handy. After all, Great-grandma Lois approves!

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