Photos, sides and film all degrade over time. Scan them, breathe new life into them so you and your family can truly enjoy those treasured moments and preserve them forever.
Chances are that you have a closet or attic full of boxes of old prints, slides and documents that you think would look right at home organised neatly and preserved on your home computer, mobile device or online to share with family and friends. Your photos are precious, they are a treasure trove of shared moments, both intimate and historical, but unless preserved digitally, they will fade and become damaged with time or even worse could be permanently lost or damaged by fire or flood.
It is worth gathering your photos, slides, negatives and important documents to take stock of what you have. While going through the old photos, try and have an older relative on hand to tell you who maybe in the photos and the stories behind them to make notes for inclusion later.
Time to get your photos out of the closet
Here are 3 simple ways to digitise your photos, slides and important documents to bringing your past into the present and fading memories back to life:
1. DIY Scanning
2. DIY Phone
3. Let someone else scan your photos
1. FOR THE HIGHEST QUALITY, USE A FLATBED SCANNER
There are various methods to convert important prints, slides and documents into digital versions, but scanning offers superior quality.
So you may be looking into something affordable, like scanning the photos yourself using a flatbed scanner. It’s the cheaper option, but it does require a bit of an investment in your time – like committing a few hours on the weekend or a break it up to scan a few photos and documents every day.
Visit pcmag.com for “The Best Photo Scanners of 2015” review and tips to consider when purchasing a scanner.
Preparing your prints and slides for scanning
Before scanning your photos, slides and prints, wipe them down with a microfiber cloth. Don’t use water as it will ruin the prints. Next, take the photos to a dust-free environment together with the scanner. If the scanner needs a bit of dusting down, read the instruction manual on steps to dust and clean the scanner glass. Once you’ve done this, you can start scanning.
Wipe your photos and slides with a microfiber cloth
Wipe your scanner with a microfiber cloth
Tips to Speed Up the Scanning Process
a. Scan several prints at once
Flatbed scanners can easily hold four prints in one scan. Later on, you can use software to crop the pictures into the desired form. Bunching up the scans saves time and allows you to whiz through a collection. Let’s say it takes you 1 minute to scan a photo. So for every four individual prints, you take 4 minutes. Bunching up the scan into groups of 4 prints means you use just 1 minute to scan all of them instead of 4 minutes. How cool is that? If you have 200 photos, for instance, you can theoretically go through them in less than an hour, instead of three agonising hours hunched over the scanner.
Scan 200 photos in less than an hour
b. Scan your prints at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch)
It is important to choose the right resolution for your photos. Scanning your photos are 300 dpi will allow you to do high quality 8″x 10″ prints. However, 600 dpi will give you clearer photos and provides images suitable for printing enlargements and viewing on high definition screens. A scan of a typical 600 dpi print photograph results in a jpg file with a size of around 2mb and will take longer to scan your photos.
Ideally scan photos at resolution of 300 dpi
c. Scanning slides or negatives
If you have slides or negatives to scan, you will need a transparency adapter for you flatbed scanner.
Use a transparency Adapter to scan slides or negatives
d. Use editing options bundled with the scanning software
Rather than using a separate program to edit the photos, you can edit them immediately after scanning them by using the editor in your scanner software.
Most scanning software bundles allow you to crop, make colour adjustments, play around with the brightness and remove red-eye from your photos allowing you to make backlight correction, remove dust and scratch spots from your images. Using the built-in editor saves time compared to moving the scans to another program for editing.
If you don’t have a flatbed scanner, you may choose to scan your photos at a local library or internet café and save your scanned photos to a USB or disc.
Now that you have your photos scanned and stored nicely in your computer, the next thing you want to think about is the organisational structure. In fact, you should have an organisational structure in mind while you’re scanning the prints and slides to save time. There are lots of ways you can organise the photos. Some people like to group photos according to the date they were taken, others like to group them by occasion or even, while some people use people’s names to arrange their photos. The choice is entirely yours. But once you choose a structure, stick to it to avoid jumbling up your scans.
There are so many great things to do with your photos once scanned. Upload them to Facebook or Instagram to share with friends and family. Burn scanned photos to a disc or create a folder in Dropbox to share the files with family members to ensure a number of copies are saved and preserved. Create a beautiful digital or hard cover book with your story and photos through wwww.OurLifeStory.Club, print the photos on t-shirts or any other product. Endless possibilities.
2. USE YOUR PHONE TO SCAN PHOTOS
With a free app and a smartphone with a high-quality camera (such as the iPhone 6S or Samsung Galaxy S7), you can quickly scan your old photos, archive them and share your memories with family and friends online.
This won’t replicate the quality of using a flatbed scanner, but it’s good if you want to scan photos in a pinch or don’t own a scanner.
One of the more popular apps to get attention recently is Photomyne, which is currently available on iOS and recently on Android. This app accepts shots of multiple photos at once and automatically crops them out into individual images (though ‘scanning’ one at a time will give you a higher resolution per photo).
- Clean your phone’s camera lens with a Microfiber Cloth.
- Find a well-lit area with lots of natural light and few shadows.
- Turn off flash, otherwise glare will ruin your scans.
- Do not use zoom while scanning photos. This will result in poorer resolution
You can post the photos on Facebook, Instagram or store them on your home computer, mobile device or preferred cloud photo storage site, such as Google Drive, Flickr or Dropbox. This means that you can back up your scanned photos to the internet so that you have digital files securely and privately available via your web browser, allowing you to access them from anywhere and share them easily.
3. LET SOMEONE ELSE SCAN YOUR PHOTOS
If all of this sounds like one giant headache, consider outsourcing your photo scanning to a professional, paid service. For example, TheMagicShoeBox.com and Scanmyphotos.com scans, crops, edits and archives your photos starting at $0.45 a piece, depending on the scan quality you choose. Alternatively, they can send you a box that you fill up and it scans starting at a flat rate of $185 for 500 photos or $295 for 1,000 prints (ideal for a family photo collection). DigMyPics.com and ScanCafe.com are two other options worth comparing. Photo Centres such as Harvey Norman, Kmart and Office Works offer scanning services for as little as 10 cents per photo. Otherwise, feel free to note a comment in the box below and I’m sure we will find a service local to you.
The Magic Shoe Box will digitise your photos for you
Our Life Story will help you to capture and preserve these precious moments, through a new and exciting website which allows you to capture your memories and life experiences, add your photos and create a beautiful digital or hardcover book.
Your online story will become a home for you to update at any time as memories come to you, allowing you to share your unique story and be handed down through the generations in your own words.
“Everyone has a story, tell your story as only you can tell it”
Without knowing it, you undoubtedly hold onto a wealth of information and anecdotes about your life, love and your family heritage.
I hope this inspires you to digitise your precious collection of photos, slides, film and documents.
PS: I’m sure after reading this, you will have some questions or would like further information on digistising your precious photos. I would be glad to answer them for you in the comments below.