Preserving Scrapbooks From The Past: Canon DSLR vs. Flip-Pal

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) and 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 Hatch’s 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 breathe 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 we 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 hadn’t thought to 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!
Oh yes, there are more.  I really wanted some decent shots!

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. Much to the delight of my mother, AKA DearMYRTLE, 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.
I love that my children were "into" it and wanted to hear more!

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!) It 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. The touch of a button and about 5 seconds is all that it takes to get a beautiful scan. And the Flip-Pal software intuitively “stitches” scans 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!”
So next time you head to Grandma’s make sure to pack your Flip Pal as you never know when it will come in handy. After all, Great-grandma Lois approves!

Carrie Keele
(a.k.a. "DearMYRTLE's daughter)


  1. OMG. That's what the Flip Pal does ? Oh dear... how have I survived this long without one ? Thank you for showing the difference !!!

  2. Thanks for the story, Carrie. Love my Flip Pal.

    My Flip Pal, a set of rechargeable batteries, and a charger all live in the outer pocket of my laptop case. That way as soon as I copy the pictures they get added to my laptop and I can add extensive descriptions so those details don't get lost. The owner of the originals can see that I've preserved the picture and the information.

  3. That's a great idea, Edward. Seeing how easy it is to get that final result is pretty impressive.

  4. Great for Bible records pages, too!!

  5. I was just thinking the other days about bibles ... we have a family bible that is so fragile, we're not going to be able to handle it many more times before it disintegrates. Great suggestion!

  6. Carrie,

    I love my Flip Pal too!

    I want to let you know that two of your blog posts are listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  7. Wow, thanks Jana! You are always so good to me!! :)

  8. This was a great post, Carrie! We all have those grandparents that have volumes of albums like that - or, we are grandparents that have volumes of albums like that.