By Joe Southern
As many people learned during Hurricane Harvey, boxes and albums of old photographs are hardly essentials to grab during an evacuation, but upon return their loss is one of the most lamented.
When people talk about losing things that can’t be replaced, photos usually top the list. That’s why Fabi and Gabriel Morris encourage people to get their pictures – their family heirlooms – digitized and backed up. In January they started Treasured Pixels, a company that scans and organizes old photographs and slides. They can also help organize the hundreds of photos lurking in a cell phone or on a computer where they may otherwise never be seen again.
“We’re helping people tell the stories behind the photos,” Fabi said.
The couple met while serving in the Navy. Fabi started scrapbooking 17 years ago, “but life took me on a rollercoaster.”
“We had more kids and their baby books were not getting done,” she said.
In 2004, Fabi had joined Creative Memories to help with her scrapbooks. The company went under a short time later but has since returned. In the meantime, Fabi and many other scrapbooking enthusiasts found that life moved on and half-completed scrapbooks were collecting dust with boxes of photos.
“There’s been a shift in photography,” she said.
All of this was happening about the time digital photography was taking hold and people were viewing pictures on their computers and phones. Over time, print and digital photo collections were growing in size and disorganization. Digital photos were getting lost and print photos – as many Harvey victims can attest – were getting damaged or tucked away in attics and closets.
“I don’t think people realized what was happening,” Fabi said. “Their photos are getting lost and they’re almost not aware it’s happening.”
With Treasured Pixels Fabi and Gabriel use high-end scanners and photo-editing software to scan photos and then organize them in a way the client wants. They can back them up online, make prints or produce photo books.
“I love doing life celebration books,” Fabi said.
They are currently working on a project with the elderly widow of a World War II veteran whose husband took numerous photos of the early days of the war in Europe before the United States became involved. She doesn’t know what to do with the photos but doesn’t want them lost to history either. This way they are preserved and easily shared.
She said they work with people to determine what they want done with their photos, whether it’s scanning generations of images out of photo albums, organizing pictures from across several electronic gadgets or backing up a wedding album or baby book.
“We want to jar people out of complacency with their photos,” she said. “Often they’re too overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.”
She said when she meets with a client she can help them organize their thoughts about their photos if need be.
When it comes to scanning the photos, Fabi said that not only are the images saved, but the scanners are double-sided, so any information on the back of the photo is also captured and preserved.
“We work with the metadata of the (digital) photos,” she said. “We put the data there and hopefully it will migrate with the photo and stay there.”
The Morris’s are members of the Association of Professional Photo Organizers, an organization that sprang up eight years ago.
“There is an entire industry that has formed and overall it is the old Creative Memories people,” Fabi said.
Gabriel, who is a youth pastor at Sugar Land Bible Church, helps with some of the work but mostly handles their website (www.treasuredpixels.com).
Fabi said people are starting to ask how they can save photos that were damaged in the floods. She said photographs can be rinsed with tap water and again with distilled water and then left to dry. She also recommends that they be scanned and digitally preserved as well.
She said people should consider the ABC’s of photo organization. “A” photos are those that would be framed or placed in an album. “B” photos are those that would be saved in a box and “C” photos should be canned, or trashed. Those are the duplicates and bad or blurry photos.
Fabi also said that September is Save Your Photos Month. Coincidentally, she and Karen Tipton have scheduled a free workshop on Sept. 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the First Colony Library in Sugar Land. They will also have a booth at the Fort Bend Star’s Senior Expo on Oct. 10 at the Stafford Centre.