Old photo slides may contain some of your most priceless memories, so you may not want to throw them away even though they are taking up lots of space. Even if you don’t have a slide projector or viewer, there are lots of great things you can do with old slides.
Over the past 20 years, Capture has seen families use boxes of slides for all sorts of projects and purposes, so we’re here to share them with you. That way you no longer have to wonder what to do with old slides and can use them for something useful or creative.
Keep reading to learn about the top 20 ways to use old slides including using them as art, recycling, donating, selling, digitizing, and much more!
Quick List of 20 Ways to Use Old Slides
- Digitize Them
- Create Art
- Sell Them
- Donate Them
- Upcycle Them
- Recycle Them
- Use them for Teaching
- Create a Slideshow
- Make a Photo Album
- Use Them for Nostalgia
- Use Them as Wallpaper
- Use Them for a Family Tree
- Use Them as Building Toys
- Use Them for Research
- Create a Time Capsule
- Make Slide Jewelry
- Use Them for Home Decor
- Repurpose Them as Gifts
- Use Them for Writing
- Keep Them in Storage
1. Digitize Them
By preserving your old slides in high-quality digital format, you ensure that future generations can enjoy them while also maintaining the best slide quality possible. In addition, this makes it easy to save them on any device like a hard drive, iPhone or Android smartphone, cloud storage, or Microsoft or Mac computer. Finally, it makes it easy to share them with loved ones on social media and email, enhance them as JPG pics using photo editing software like Photoshop to produce high-resolution digital images or organize the digital files any way you want without taking up space.
You can scan slides yourself using a flatbed scanner, like an Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner, or by using a dedicated slide scanner or film scanner like the Kodak Slide N Scan, but digitizing slides this way is time-consuming.
Capture can scan your family slides to preserve them in the highest possible digital photo quality, auto-upload them to your Google Photos account, and protect them throughout the entire process with a state-of-the-art security and tracking system. That way you keep the original transparencies safe while also creating digital images that last forever.
2. Create Art
You can use your old photo slides to create artwork like collages, lampshades, stained glass windows, DIY chandeliers, and so much more. Use your imagination to create artwork that is 100% original and contains your precious photographic memories.
You also don’t need to keep the slides whole if you’ve already preserved them via digitization. Instead, you can cut out the photo, use the plastic surroundings, stack them, glue them, paint them, or do anything else to create the art you want.
3. Sell Them
Even though you don’t want your old slides, someone else might. It’s hard to know what someone will pay for your slides, but placing them on eBay or Amazon marketplace will often generate a response from people who love viewing historical pictures, want to repurpose them for their own project, or simply collect them because of an interest in photography.
Unless there is something significant contained on your slides, it’s unlikely that you’ll get more than 5 or 6 cents each, but you still make a little money while also helping someone who is looking to buy slides for whatever reason. If there are photos of concerts by renowned musicians, historical figures or leaders, unusual events, or anything else, then the slides could be worth a lot more, up to hundreds of dollars or more per slide.
4. Donate Them
You can also donate Kodachrome slides, film negatives, and slide projectors to certain organizations that preserve culture, history, and photography. Some options for donation include the Photography Collections Preservation Project, Shorpy, and the Found Film Archive.
In addition, if your slides contain local landmarks, events, and neighborhoods, a local museum or historical society may also appreciate them. Many historians love seeing the day-to-day lives of people from their area, even if you don’t think there is anything of significance contained in your slide collection.
5. Upcycle Them
Another option is to upcycle your slides to create useful products that you can use yourself or sell on Etsy or eBay. Some ideas for upcycling include keychains, lampshades, curtains, wind chimes, jewelry, decorative furniture, doorway beads, memory books, and stained glass.
Using slides as a lampshade or stained glass lets you project photos when light shines through them. You can also use transparent paint to alter the color that shines through. Check out Pinterest for more ideas!
6. Recycle Them
While the photo portion of your slide has chemical and silver coatings that cannot be processed for recycling, the outside cardboard or plastic part of the slide can be recycled. That means that you will have to take the time to separate the portions, but the Earth will thank you for doing so.
Plus, environmental experts don’t recommend simply throwing slides away because the silver can be harmful when introduced to a landfill. We recommend contacting your local recycling organizations to ask them about their recycling policies and how they can help you dispose of your slides in an environmentally healthy way.
7. Use them for Teaching
Old slides can be used as a teaching or tutorial tool for a few different reasons. They can help teach students about photography. Many younger students may not have used or even seen a photo slide before, but they can help teach the fundamentals of photography, photo processing and development, and projection.
Slides may also be used for teaching other subjects depending on what is contained in your photos. For example, you can use them to teach about using primary sources for research with historical moments or situations captured on your slides.
8. Create a Slideshow
If you are wondering what to do with old slides, then don’t forget the simplest use of all, which is to create a slideshow using a slide viewer or projector. Even if you don’t have a projector, you can create a slideshow booklet or even use digital images to create a digital slideshow.
Then, you and your loved ones can view the slideshow at a family reunion, wedding, funeral, or other event. This can be a nostalgic and memorable experience for the entire family and makes great use of your slide collection.
9. Make a Photo Album
You can organize your boxes of slides into photo albums, which makes it easier to find memories based on date or year, specific events or vacations, family members and loved ones, and more. A photo book may not illuminate your old 35mm slides, but it will create a family keepsake or heirloom that you can pass on to future generations.
We recommend preserving the images in digital format before using them for a photo book, and doing both not only ensures future generations can enjoy the digital photos but they will also have a physical copy of the memories to cherish forever.
10. Use Them for Nostalgia
If you have boxes of old slides, you may not have viewed them for years or even decades. Instead of just letting them sit around collecting dust, you can use them to reminisce, remember people you haven’t thought about in years, and experience a profound feeling of nostalgia.
You can also share these moments with younger generations of loved ones to tell them about your legacy, their ancestors, and the past that lead to the present. We recommend getting a slide viewer or projector so you can view them with ease in the original format, or you can simply digitize them and enjoy them on any device.
11. Use Them as Wallpaper
Using old slides as wallpaper can help you create a unique aesthetic that also encapsulates your family’s history and culture. There are a few ways you can make wallpaper from old slides. The easiest way is to glue the entire slide to the wall so that the wall appears covered in slides and memories.
The second way is to remove the photo portion of the slide (and recycle the cardboard!) and create a wallpaper out of this portion. Either method can create gorgeous results that bring your memories to life. In addition, you can organize them by colors that appear in the photo to create an organized look or design.
12. Use Them for a Family Tree
If your slides contain pictures of your loved ones, then you can create a visual family tree that shows your entire ancestry in slide photos. To do so, all you need to do is organize them by generation starting at one end of the tree and branching out to the other. This can be a wonderful gift, family heirloom, decorative piece, and enjoyable family project.
13. Use Them as Building Toys
Kids love building things using blocks, Legos, and anything they can get their hands on. Slides can be a great toy because you can stack them, glue them together, and construct them to build castles, dioramas, and houses. You can use other materials to reinforce them and make them easier to build, especially if you will be building with younger children.
14. Use Them for Research
Old photo slides are considered a primary source, which means they are perfect for researching and documenting your family’s history. Depending on what is contained in the slides, you may be able to retrace your family’s past to different areas, homes, cultures, and more. This will help you piece together years that you may not remember.
15. Create a Time Capsule
A time capsule offers a glimpse into the past, which makes it the perfect use for your old slides. You can include other stuff as well and then set a date 5, 10, 20, or 50 years into the future so that when you and your loved ones finally open it, you get to relive memories long forgotten. To ensure the time capsule lasts, seal the capsule in a polyethylene bag to prevent humidity from destroying your slides and anything else you include.
16. Make Slide Jewelry
If you don’t know what to do with old Kodachrome slides, use them to make jewelry. DIY jewelry pieces made out of slides are an eye-catching conversation starter and there are many ways you can do this. Many people cut the slides up and then attach them together to make bracelets, necklaces, or earrings. However, you can make earrings or keychains out of full slides as well.
17. Use Them for Home Decor
Slides can be used to create home décor pieces like lampshades, curtains, desktops, stained glass, chandeliers, and more. Putting them on a desktop can be a great way to make a plain white, brown, or black desk look original and unique. Having slides in front of windows or light sources also shines the light through the transparencies to create a wonderfully colorful aesthetic.
You can use the entire slide or remove the cardboard portion to create different types of decorations as well, including things like sculptures, wall art, hanging artwork, or even writing words out in an artsy way.
18. Repurpose Them as Gifts
People love thoughtful gifts and slides can certainly be one on their own because they are great for remembering times long forgotten. However, you can also create unique gifts made out of slides, including many of the other items on our list such as photo books, jewelry, lampshades, digital slideshows, collages, artwork, and more.
19. Use Them for Writing
Old slides and photo negatives can be used as writing prompts for stories and journals, which can be fun, relaxing, and creative. For example, start by looking at a few random slides and then write a story about the events contained in them. Or you can try writing journal entries based on your memories of the events contained on your photo slides.
20. Keep Them in Storage
After you scan your photo slides and preserve them as digital images, then you can do whatever you want with them. If you didn’t find another use for what to do with old photo slides on this list, we suggest keeping them if you have the space to do so. In the future, you may be glad that you did so you can upcycle, recycle, repurpose, reminisce, enjoy, and share the memories with loved ones.
Slides contain your priceless family memories, so it’s important to preserve them while you still can. You can ensure they last forever by digitizing them, then you can use the remaining physical slides for artwork, photo albums, home décor, slideshows, and anything else you can think of.
Capture can make your memories last forever even if you don’t know what to do with old slides. Our digitization specialists will convert them into high-quality digital images that your future loved ones can enjoy for generations. Click here to learn how we preserve your photo slides.