6 Steps to Prepare for Scanning Your Photos – and what you need to know before you get started.

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. 

12 Great Reasons to Scan Your Printed Photos

  1. Fires, flood, storm and smoke damage – it happens.  If your favorite photos are scanned and backed up properly, they will be protected from these disasters.  Who remembers all the photos that were blown miles away during the tornadoes a few years ago.
  2. Save improperly stored photos before it is too late- The process of looking for photos to scan will uncover potential storage issues that may be harming photos.  This will be a good opportunity to remove those pictures from sticky/magnetic albums or other problem storage issues.
  3. Photos do deteriorate – especially if in poor storage conditions.   Take a look at color pictures from the 60s and 70s.  Often they are faded and Yellowed.  When photos are scanned the digital image can be easily color corrected!
Photo Scanned and Color Corrected
  1. The ability to edit – scanning a photo allows the opportunity to not only color-correct, but also to crop, enlarge and otherwise restore pictures, often improving on the original
  2. Sharing – now that an image is scanned you can share with uncle Bob or your sister Sue or you can post to social media.  
  3. Listen or share stories before it is too late – as we treasure hunt through our photos, and photos of family members, it is a perfect opportunity to find the story behind the photo.  The earlier you start the process, the more likely the person will still be around to tell that great story and you can capture it in the metadata of the photo.
  4. Scanning photos now will be readily available when celebrating a special event like a birthday, graduation, anniversary.  This is also especially helpful when creating a photo memorial for a funeral.
  5. Digital photos can be easier to find – if you add file information to your digital files you can search in Windows or Finder for your photos.  Have you been to Disney several times?  Search on Disney and all your photos will be listed.
  6. In a divorce, both parties can have a copy of all the photos.
  7. If you don’t want to do scanning yourself,  scanning is now much more affordable
  8. Create a shared extended family photo collection – often over time, different family members have different photos of different events.  Families can collaborate and share their favorite family photos with others.
  9. Make photo books and all sorts of photo gifts with your new found photos. 

What is photo scanning and is it something you should do?

Photo Scanning Equipment

I was recently talking to a client and asked her if she wanted to scan some of her favorite pictures as we worked.  She asked what I meant by that.  Another question I have had asked is how to “get a printed photo” on their computer.  Sometimes we make assumptions based on the universe that we live in and realize other people might not have the same experiences. 
This is all managed in the scanning process.  When we “scan” a physical document or photo we place it on either our flatbed scanner (many people have these on their multipurpose printers, or on our high-speed commercial scanners.  It effectively takes a digital picture of the photo or document and it saves it to a file on our computer.  This is also called photo scanning or photo digitizing.  Now that the photo is scanned we can do any number of things with it. 

Metadata – photo information

First of all, we add identifying information – or metadata to it. When we scan an image it might be called image_0001 and image_0002.  I will typically name a picture with year-month-day if it is available, and at a minimum, event and location info.  Why?  We want to be able to find these files later.  An example would be  “2017-07-01 Disney Vacation 
Cinderella Castle.”  From there I save it to a file structure I have created on the computer.

Here is what I recommend.  If you have photo albums or boxes, go through them and choose your favorite pictures to scan.  If your photos aren’t organized, you will need to do that first.  If you need help organizing your photos contact us to get one-on-one help. Some people just hand them over and say scan everything, but that really can mean much more work in the long run.  There are clearly photos in your collection that will cause the most stress at the thought of their loss,  these are the ones to digitize.

Don’t wait to convert your VHS tapes!

VHS Tapes Need to be converted to digital files

Every year we wait to convert our home videos, the more likely the quality will continue to degrade.  Here is a great article to explain just what is happening.  Not only that, we often don’t have the ability to play them on our equipment anymore.  My recommendation is to convert them to a digital format before it is too late.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Identify any tapes (VHS and other tape formats you have) that need to be converted.
  • If you can, try watching them, to make sure you know what is on the tape.
  • Prioritize what tapes you want to convert first, especially if you have budget constraints. It is also good to start with just a few to see how the process works.
  • You have plenty of local options for tape conversion including Reel Pro Video or Absolute Video in Batavia.
  • Ask them to convert the files to a digital format.  I recommend AVI (PC) or MOV (Mac) especially if you intend to edit the video, but Mp4 is OK for most uses.  Saving straight to a DVD saves it to a compressed format that has limited uses.  You may need to provide a USB drive or external hard drive or purchase one from them to complete the conversion.
  • Once the tapes are converted, it is possible to edit down the files to the parts you actually want to see!  Please consider doing this.  Often a young relative will help.  If not, that is a service we also provide.

Imagine how fun your next family event will be when you pull out some edited videos people haven’t seen in years!

Five Reasons to Scan Your Scrapbooks!

Scrapbook waiting to be scanned

Any scrapbooker will agree with these statements:

  • Scrapbooks are one of kind
  • Scrapbooks are a labor of love
  • Scrapbooks are irreplaceable

If you scan your scrapbooks you not only have a backup for these works of art and repository of family members, but you have greater opportunity for sharing what you have done.  Here are five reasons why you should scan your scrapbooks now.

  1. If you are creating one scrapbook for you family and you have 2 or more children, who gets the scrapbooks down the road?  Scan them now and sharing is a breeze.  You can either make a new scrapbook with page prints or create a photo book out of your designs. 
  2. Scanning scrapbooks can serve as a back up the only copy of photos taken prior to the digital era. (Glued in photos can be scanned and saved separately.)
  3. Excited about pages you have completed?  You can share them on social media.
  4. Do you have a family member that lives far away that can’t see your scrapbooks?  You can send them a pdf file so they can look at your creation.
  5. Most importantly,  scanning your scrapbooks helps preserve these memories from the dangers of a natural disaster, or even degradation over time.

Scrapbook scanning starts at $1.99 per page.  Contact me if you would like to get started.

Burnham Creative Group Now Offers Photo Scanning

Mess of photos and photo albums needing to be scanned

Burnham Creative Group is proud to announce we have just added in-house photo scanning to our services!  Feel confident that your photos will be treated with the utmost care and never travel through the mail with the risk of getting lost. Whether you have thousands of 4 x 6 photos or delicate legacy photos, Burnham Creative Group can handle the job. Each photo can be lightly edited including basic color correction.   We don’t stop there, we add critical information to each file’s metadata so you can find and share the pictures you are looking for later.