How Image Hive digitizes family photos, videos and more in Avondale

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Anita Israel with her home recorded reel-to-reel tapes. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

If you’re like my family, you probably have a cardboard box or two filled with VHS home movies, old photos and maybe even some Super 8 movie film. Sound familiar? If you want to view those old movies but already threw away your VHS player, you need to check out Image Hive.

We spoke with two past Image Hive customers to learn more about their experience digitizing legacy family media.

Why digitize old photos and videos?

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Do any of these old audio or visual formats look familiar? If so, Image Hive can digitize them for you! (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Digitizing old photos, videos and more is the best way to make sure that they can be viewed and enjoyed by generations to come. Since VHS tapes, Super 8 home movies, film negatives and prints are all physical media, they do decay over time. Even worse, all it takes is one home fire or natural disaster to completely wipe out decades of irreplaceable family memories.

Plus, transferring old photos and videos to a digital format makes it much easier to view those precious memories. Even if you still have a VHS player, do you really want to dust it off and try to plug it into your Smart TV? By digitizing your old videos and photos, you can easily view them on your phone, computer, TV and anything in-between!

Image Hive
Image Hive works with preserving their customer’s priceless family mementos every day. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

To learn more about digitizing old media, we spoke with Anita Israel and Leigh Laatsch—two locals that digitized countless hours of irreplaceable family memories with Avondale’s Image Hive.

Digitizing Old Media with Image Hive

Anita Israel

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Anita Israel with her home recorded reel-to-reel tapes. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Originally from Hoover, Anita Israel began researching her family’s genealogy after retiring from teaching for 37 years. While poring through her family’s records, Anita found a treasure-trove of video and audio tapes dating back to the 1950s.

“We found 46 8mm movie reels that were old and dusty—truthfully, we didn’t think anything could be salvaged from them. And then we found 34 reel-to-reel audio tapes that my daddy had use to record himself and friends playing music—banjos, guitars, pianos and so much more.”

Anita Israel
Image Hive
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Anita didn’t feel comfortable sending her collection to a digitization service through the mail, so she started asking around. Then, a friend told her about Image Hive in Avondale.

“I was thrilled to use Image Hive, since they’re right here in town and do everything on site. You don’t have to worry about anything getting lost in the mail, and the Image Hive team was so professional and knowledgeable.”

Anita Israel
Image Hive
Anita Israel’s collection of Super 8 movies. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

After speaking with the team over the phone, Anita meticulously labeled each box and packed it up to deliver to Image Hive. A few weeks later, the contents of Anita’s boxes of tapes had been transferred to a tiny USB. Anita ordered multiple USB copies to distribute among family.

Of all the hours of video and audio, one clip stands out to Anita.

“My dad died when we were still very young, so we don’t have very many memories of him in our childhood. One of those videos—which no one had seen since it was filmed—shows my dad laying in bed with us three little kids all around him. I teared up when I first saw that, because I hadn’t seen my daddy in so long. Image Hive transformed what I thought was a box of dusty old tapes into treasured memories for my entire family. They truly gave me my childhood back.”

Anita Israel

Click here to learn more about Image Hive and how you can transfer your collection to a digital format that will last forever.

Leigh Laatsch

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Leigh Laatsch in her home. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Originally from Mountain Brook, Leigh Laatsch is a true Birminghamian through-and-through. As a descendant of one of the founders of Birmingham, Leigh is always looking to support local—including buying her jewelry at Levy’s Fine Jewelry and working on the board of Oak Hill Cemetery.

So, when she was looking for someone to digitize her family’s home movies and photos, she wanted to find a locally-owned service.

“I was looking for a reputable, local company that could transfer all sorts of different media. I had a conglomeration of different reels, cassette tapes, VHS tapes and so much more. The team at Image Hive was so accommodating, so helpful and such great listeners. That meant a lot to me, because I was trusting them with some of my family’s most precious memories.”

Leigh Laatsch
Image Hive
Leigh Laatsch’s collection of VHS tapes, CDs and cassette tapes. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

In addition to digitizing the VHS tapes, cassette tapes and reels, Leigh utilized Image Hive to develop and scan several rolls of 35mm film that her mother had used.

“When each of my children turned six years old, my mother took portraits of them at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. She passed away before developing those photos, and when Homewood’s Wolf Camera closed in 2017, I had no idea where to go to have film developed. I was so thrilled that Image Hive was able to develop those photos for us!”

Leigh Laatsch
Image Hive
Leigh looking through old slide film photos. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

When Image Hive returned Leigh’s collection, she was able to see countless hours of family video that hadn’t been seen in years.

“When I finally saw everything in front of me on the big screen, I shed tears. Now, when my kids and I get together we can pull up any of the videos or photos on my phone and laugh at how little they were! My husband and I raised seven children, and now we have five grandchildren. It’s incredible to be able to show my grandchildren a video of their third great-grandfather walking the streets of Birmingham next to Birmingham Publishing Company.”

Leigh Laatsch

Preserve your family’s favorite memories with Image Hive

Image Hive
Image Hive’s location on 41st Street in Avondale. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

When it comes to transferring old photos and videos to digital, no one does it better than Image Hive. Located in Avondale, Image Hive‘s highly-trained specialists can do it all, including:

  • Home movie film transfers, including 16mm film, 8mm film and Super 8 film
  • Audio transfers, including vinyl, cassettes and micro cassettes and reel-to-reel
  • Video transfers, including VHS/S-VHS, MiniDV, VHS-C / S-VHS-C, VIDEO8 / HI8 / DIGITAL8 and PROFESSIONAL & PAL
  • Photo digitization, including slides, film negatives, printed photos and more
  • Archiving, duplications, forensic photo analysis and studio rental

Plus, Image Hive offers restoration services for their film transfers, including color correction, image stabilization and more. This sample clip shows the massive difference before and after a restoration service.

Ready to transfer your collection to a digital format that’ll last forever? Reach out to the folks at Image Hive to get started!

Image Hive
An Image Hive employee hard at work digitizing a client’s photos. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Have you used Image Hive’s services? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know about your experience!

Sponsored by:

Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer at Bham Now

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