Digital photography has made documenting our children’s lives easier than ever. When we were kids, however, our memories were recorded on film, which we had developed into actual photos you could hold in your hands. While there are upsides to having a physical picture to look at, there are some downsides, too. Those shoeboxes full of photos can take up a lot of space, for one thing. For another, they’re hard to sort and share. Finally, they’re vulnerable to damage. Water, heat or even just time can wreak their havoc on those old family photos. What to do? We suggest digitizing photos as a way to protect and store your memories.
Tips for Digitizing Photos
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend digitizing your old photos, you can outsource the job to a company. For instance, blacks.ca offers a ‘shoebox service’. They ship you a box, you pack it full of hundreds of photos, and they scan them and clean them all up for you. It isn’t cheap at between 10 and 50 cents per photo, but it will definitely save you time and aggravation.
Choose the Right Scanner
If you’ll be scanning the photos yourself, you might want to consider investing in a photo scanner. You’ll spend upwards of $100, but it will make the process much faster, and it will accept formats like negatives and slides. If you already have a flatbed scanner you can use that as well, but it will take a little bit longer. You can speed the scanning process up a bit by ‘batch scanning’ multiple photos at once, and then editing the files later to retrieve each individual image.
There’s an App for That
There are smartphone apps that can scan your photos. These apps are going to depend on the lighting wherever you’re scanning, and aren’t particularly fast. However, if there’s a single photo you want to digitize right now, they can offer a great, quick solution.
Make Sure Your Photos and Scanner are Clean
If you’re digitizing photos yourself, you don’t want the images to come out with little dust specks and bits of fluff on them. Make sure your photos and scanner surface are clean. A can of compressed air can help dust off your photos before you scan them. Follow your scanner’s cleaning instructions regularly, so that your last scanned image looks just as good as your first.
Organize and Back Up Your Files
Once you’re finished digitizing your photos, you’ll want to make sure the files are organized and protected. After all, one of the points of digitizing photos is so that you can more easily find the images you want, so taking the time to catalogue them will pay off down the road. You’ll also want to make sure that your digital files are backed up. If they’re just saved on your computer’s hard drive, or a physical photo CD, they’re still vulnerable to being lost. Photo sharing sites, Dropbox, Google Drive and other online services can provide the security of having your photos in the cloud as well as in your hands.
Do you have any tips for digitizing old photos? We’d love to hear!
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.