Photo Scanning Equipment

As a photo organizer, I typically help the client through each of these steps.  However, it is good information for do-it-yourselfers or for people to understand the process of scanning photos before you get started.

About Scanning equipment and file resolution
Typically scanning services will have at least one of three types of scanning systems for scanning photos.  A high-speed scanner for standard prints, a flatbed scanner and some may also have a camera scanning setup for larger or odd sized prints.  If you have photos with writing on the back we can also scan both sides of prints quickly with our high-speed scanner.  At Burnham Creative Group we can scan up to 1200 dpi and can also do tiff files for those that want them.  Tiff files are used by libraries and institutions as it is considered a more archival format.  However, the file sizes are substantial.  For most people, photos scanning photos as jpg files is preferred.  Our standard scanning resolution is 600 dpi that allows for printing 8×10 pictures of 4×6 files.

  1. Organize your photos.  Sorry, this is the most time-consuming step.  If they are not organized your scanned photos will not organized. 
  2. Choose the photos you want scanned.  I am not a proponent of scanning everything you have.  One way or another you need to take the time to pick your favorites.  Either you will take the time before you scan and you are selective, or after when you have thousands of digital files to sort through that you have paid to have scanned.
  3. Remove your photos from albums or boxes and label the spaces they came from.  Some people use twincheck labels.  Another simple method is to use small post-it notes.  Number your post-it-notes sequentially.  Attach a post-it-note to the album/box location it came from.  Please note that you should not put the post-it-note on the front of the photo.  Use a soft leaded pencil and put the number from the post-it-note on the back of your photo.
  4. Make sure your photos are clean, with no trace of adhesive. If photos are glued or taped to anything else put them in a separate pile.  They will be scanned separately from your other photos.  Consider wiping photos with a microfiber or lint-free cloth prior to bundling.
  5. Bundle photos in the order you want them scanned.  You may wrap them in a rubber band.
    • Separate them with 4×6 index cards and write the sequence number on each one if you want them scanned in order (if your index cards contain dates, that works too). 
    • Make sure the rubber band is not touching the front of any pictures, but your index cards instead.
    • Feel free add additional information on index cards that will help with organizing the files later.  They will be scanned with the photos.
  6. Decide how much information you want added to the file.  This is called metadata and applying this data properly is the best way to ensure access and sharing to these photos for years to come.  Information includes:  Name and date of event, location of the event, people in the picture and more.  You can even add a description and memories of the event that is part of the data of the photo! 
Use these index cards for scanning your photos

You can put in a box or an inexpensive photo box for transport.  Finally,  If you are doing all the work on your own and you have more than 1000 photos to scan, consider purchasing a ShoeBox Scanning Box for great pricing. 

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