by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Special photos should be saved in three different formats (print, cloud, thumb drive, etc.). That's a lot of work so you'll probably limit your efforts to the images most important to you.
Scanning photos helps you preserve images currently only stored as prints. You don’t have to scan every photograph (chances are they aren’t all that special) and the work involved in scanning can actually encourage curating the prints that you do find worth preserving.
Some people want the images scanned before they curate their albums. But that means scanning a lot of photographs that you might decide you won’t keep – physically or digitally.
You’ll Need a Scanner
I used the scanner on my home printer – a time consuming process that occurred over several evenings while I watched online classes and videos on my computer. It wasn’t a horrible, never-ending project, but it wasn’t that many photographs – a couple of small albums.
If you have a lot of photos, you may want an upright scanner that allows you to set in a stack of photos that feed automatically through the scanner. I haven’t used one and so I won’t even try to make a recommendation.
Of course, you must name each photo, so this will involve work on your part that the scanner can’t do for you.
I’d recommend asking around to see if friends, family or coworkers have a photo scanner that they’d be willing to lend you. Or look to renting one. Chances are that new photos enter your home digitally, so you’ll be scanning older photos.
You’ll Need to Deal with Prints Stored in Albums
Photos in albums will have to be removed so you can scan them – something you’ll want to do anyway since the plastic and adhesives of these old albums actually change the color of the photo paper, damaging photographs.
Products such as Un-Du dissolve the adhesive or you could look online for direction that show you how to use dental floss to work old photos from sticky album without damaging the photos.
Will You Want to Hire a Scanning Service?
There are services that will scan photos for you but it’s important to find out where they do the work. Remember, these are your only copies of images that you find valuable enough to spend money on to scan – so consider if you feel comfortable shipping these images to a company that may then send the prints overseas.
Scanning these photographs doesn’t mean that you’re going to get rid of the prints. Prints count as a form of backing up an image. Removing the pictures from their old album also gives you the opportunity to move the images into an archival album or photo box. (Oh, please remember to identify the people in the pictures!)
Look to the Association of Professional Photo Organizers to find someone local to you if you need assistance scanning (or even sorting) photos.
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Other helpful articles:
The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).