Family Photographs

Family Photographs and Video

Most families have about ten times the amount of family photographs and video pictured here-all carefully recorded moments of life. Unfortunately media forms seem to change faster than our well-intentioned ability to share the collection. Those VHS tapes sitting in your closet don’t last forever. If you don’t have a VCR, those home movies are not useful. If you really want the footage of those tapes to stand the test of time, you should get digitizing. Here are three different ways to put VHS tapes on your computer, or burn them onto discs if you have a DVD player.

Find Someone Else To Transfer the Family Photographs and Video

If you’d rather not go through the process yourself and are willing to spend a bit of money on the project there are plenty of professional services that will transfer your old media for you.

Local retailers like Costco, CVS, Walmart, and Target offer the service. Not only will they transfer VHS tapes, but you can also digitize old film, photographs, and slides, Betamax, 8MM, and other kinds of media.

There also may be local shops in your area that perform similar services, so use Google or ask around to see what might be available. This can get pricey quickly, depending on how many tapes you have, but it requires almost no effort for you. In my line of work I consider it a huge boon if it means the job actually gets done rather than sitting on your to-do list forever.

For those who task me to help them organize the excess outdated media of the house and sigh heavily when they reach this category I refer them to The Northeast Historic Film Institute in Bucksport. Last I knew for a fee they will transfer the old media to a newer form. My mom gave me a much cherished DVD I uploaded to my Google Drive so that I can access my childhood memories anywhere there is Internet.


If you want to save some money and are willing to put in the work and have a DVD Recorder you can try this way. It allows you to insert a VHS (you will need a VCR for this), insert a recordable DVD disc, and press record to dub the video. There’s a lot of waiting involved but it’s much cheaper than using a professional service if you have a lot of old media.

Using a DVD

You can use a separate DVD recorder that plugs into your VCR with analog cables or use a VCR/DVD unit. These are becoming less available, but you can find used ones on eBay for a reasonable amount. Other local resources might have them as well such as a local e-waste center or even sometimes Goodwill.

Plug your device into the TV, insert the tape and blank DVD and press record. Make sure that your player is set to record from VHS to DVD and not the reverse or you might record over your memories instead! Once recording, press play on the VCR side and it should dub over your video. You can check the DVD recorder’s manual online before recording by searching the model number. Once the video is on a DVD you can rip the DVD to your computer for a backup digital copy.

Using Your PC

You can also hook your VCR up to your PC for more exact recording. It takes more time, but it will get the crispest result. You need a VCR-to-USB adapter available online retailers and an RCA cable. Plug the VCR into your PC using the adapter. It should automatically install the necessary drivers but If it not use the disc that comes with the adapter to install.

Many of these come with their own recording/editing software too. You can use Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) which should work with most of these adapters. I would not recommend the DIY way unless you are very tech savvy or you’ll just have another unused device to dust around.

Do you want to get your memories in order? Contact us today!

Interested to know more about hiring a professional organizer? Check out this New York Times article!

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