How to Preserve Pictures so They Can Be Passed on for Generations

Google Desktop is probably one of the most useful tools I have installed on my computer.  If you don't yet have it, you should download it today.  It's free. is an Internet search engine.  It's where you go whenever you want to find something online.  You just go to, type in a word or phrase and within seconds you have a listing of thousands, sometimes millions, of websites related to that topic.

Google Desktop works much the same way -- except it indexes your computer rather than the entire Internet.  You'll get a little toolbar at the top of your computer screen (Note: When you download the program it'll ask you if you want the full Google sidebar or just a floating toolbar. For what it's worth, I prefer the floating toolbar as it's not so distracting.)

Whenever you're looking for a file on your computer, you can just type a keyword into your floating toolbar and within seconds you'll get a complete list of everything on your machine that contains that word - emails, word documents, PDFs, pictures… everything.

I can't tell you how much I use this tool when I'm writing.  I'm working on a new report for AWAI now about unique destinations and places to stay around the world, and I was able to type in "lighthouse Italy" to find an email I sent to a friend four years ago about a lighthouse in Italy that was converted into a hotel.

I also use it to find flight receipts, passwords to old accounts, misfiled documents, etc.  I've been relying on it for nearly a year now, and I'd say it has cut my research and writing time by a third.

** Where did Steenie say she stayed on Lake Como last year?  I type in "Steenie Lake Como" and find a reference she made to it in an article she wrote.

** Where did I put those pictures I just took at the Lake House?   I search for "Lake House" and find the folder I misfiled in My Documents.

** Where did Rich Wagner recommend I have my photos from Paris printed and enlarged to poster size?  I type in "Rich poster" and find the email he sent me about that. (By the way, he recommended for nice, quality prints at around $35 to $40.)

If you don't yet have Google Desktop on your computer, you can download it here:

It takes some hours to index your entire hard drive (I think mine took 20 hours).  But you can keep working while the indexing is in progress -- though you can't search for everything until it's finished.

Rich Wagner, in case you don't know, is our resident photo expert here. In addition to shooting amazing photos, he also owns a custom frame shop in Connecticut, where he's won awards for the fine work he does preserving pictures and other memorabilia.

In that email I sent him asking about printing my pictures at poster size, he also gave me some very sound tips for preserving those pictures once I received them.

I'm including his advice below.  It also holds true for framing your travel articles.  For instance, you might be interested in framing an attractive cover of a magazine you were published in, along with your article. That can make a nice addition to your office decor.  Read more below…

And as always -- let me know about your travel-writing or photography successes. If you have a story to share, send me a quick note at

Have a great weekend,

-- Lori

Lori Appling
Director, Great Escape Publishing



By Rich Wagner

I make my living from other people's memories. Most folks keep their memories in the back of their minds… or maybe in a shoe box on the back shelf of a closet. But for those of us who realize the best way to enjoy a memory is to live with it every day, I'm your man.

I've been in the memory business for over 20 years - as a custom framer. I've preserved Muhammed Ali's boxing gloves; chop sticks; violins; lots of baseballs, including one signed by Joe DiMaggio; immigration papers; hockey jerseys; football uniforms; christening gowns; 4-H ribbons; childhood art; Shaq's shoes; a single nail; 17th-century documents; and photographs.  Lots and lots of photographs.

For every memory I've helped someone save, I've had the pleasure of hearing the story behind it. The stories are always interesting, often funny, and on more than one occasion I've spent a few minutes bawling with my customer when emotion overcame both of us.

I think my favorite was a young man who had saved his money to frame something for his Dad for Father's Day. His Dad had coached his little league baseball team for seven years, and each year the team had an individual picture taken of each player with the coach. The boy had saved every one. You could see the years go by as the little boy grew taller and became more and more a younger version of the man he stood beside in the photographs. In the last one, they were almost the same height. We framed them in a collage with a simple brass plate that said "Thanks, Dad, for the best years of my life".

Making sure those photographs and memorabilia make it for the next four or five generations to enjoy is my goal every day. Here are some tips to help you preserve those things that are important in your life…

1.  Be sure your framer uses only "acid free" materials. This means all the materials that go into the framing have no damaging chemicals that will cause deterioration. Even the tape that holds items in a mat, or glues, should be acid free. A good framer will never, ever use masking tape or ordinary Scotch tape.

2.  Use only conservation glass. Regular glass blocks about 40% of ultraviolet light, conservation glass blocks over 97% of the damaging rays.

3.  Look for framers that have a CPF certification.  The goal of archival framing is to use nothing that would case damage. It's also important to use materials that can be reversed or removed at a later date without ruining the item. Sometimes we use rice paper hinges and wheat paste to secure art to a mat. This means your framer must know how to deal with framing all types of art, photographs, and other items on paper. A framer with a CPF certification is a good place to start. A Certified Picture Framer has taken a series of courses and passed a rigorous exam to insure he knows the right way to do things.

4.  Ask your framer to put a tag on the back of the item explaining its significance. Sometimes this is just a simple name and date card, sometimes it's a two-page story. I have some great old photographs left by my parents. I know the people in them are related to me, but I have no idea who they are. The difference between the next generation hanging something proudly on the wall and throwing it away is often knowing what the significance of the item is. Almost every memory we frame has a tag on the back explaining its importance.

Note: All of this doesn't necessarily cost more money. Shop around.  Certain chains often inflate their prices so that they can offer special sales and discounts.  Don't fall for this trick.  Their discounted prices are usually not too far from the regular prices offered at your local Mom and Pop shop.  A small shop where you can deal with the owner who has developed a good reputation in town is usually your best bet. It doesn't matter how much you saved if the item you've framed fades into oblivion in a year or two. Memories truly are priceless.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]