I am asked quite a bit about photo scanning, but it is not an area that I have a lot of experience in. Fortunately awesome DocumentSnap reader Melissa Cave from Quotesting, who I met when I was speaking at SimpleREV, agreed to write about her recent photo scanning project. Take it away, Melissa!
One of my mom’s favorite things to do when my brother and I were growing up was to take photos and compile albums. She loved to document our lives so we could enjoy looking back at them someday down the road. This led to me carting around two ginormous totes full of overstuffed photo books once they were passed onto me. I recently decided it was time to digitize these memories. My reason for this was twofold:
- I didn’t know how long the photos were going to last in analog form and didn’t want to lose these memories from normal degradation over time or to a disaster such as a fire.
- I wanted to start intentionally using the photos instead of just having them sit around.
I had tediously managed to digitize a couple of the books on my own with the use of my all in one printer/scanner, but knew there had to be a better way. I finally found one and want to share my experience with you so you don’t have to struggle through it like I did.
I used E-Z Photo Scan’s equipment rental service for this huge undertaking. Beforehand I had a lot of questions and their customer service was top notch as they patiently and thoroughly answered all my questions. I went with the 3 day package for $295 and added on the flatbed scanner for an extra $75 ($25/day) for a total cost of $370. I could have done without the flatbed as it’s very slow and didn’t help me out much, but I didn’t know that at the time.
The packages were shipped and arrived on time as promised and I went to my local FedEx office to pick them up (they are shipped to an established FedEx carrier since they’ve had problems in the past shipping to home addresses). I was excited to get home and unpack the “spaceship” as it became called during the 3 days I had it.
I was impressed with the packing of everything and unveiled the rented laptop, scanner, and supporting information in perfect condition.
Step by step instructions were included to get everything set up, including where to plug each piece of equipment in. I also loved the desktop wallpaper that helped me easily navigate throughout the process.
Once everything was unpacked and set up, the real fun could begin!
The equipment was rented for 3 days and it took all three days to get everything scanned in. In hindsight, if I had done more research ahead of time and understood the process better I definitely would have had everything organized and ready to go before hand. The scanning was the easy part, but the taking apart of albums and getting everything ready to scan was uber time consuming!
The scanner was able to handle batches of 25 pictures at a time. Writing on an index card the name/date of the event you are scanning speeds up the process because you can put it at the front of the photos and let it scan, too. This way you don’t have to worry about naming individual files after the fact.
The scanner quickly feeds the pictures through and you can instantly see them appear on the laptop screen in the Kodak software. You also have the ability to make changes after the photos are scanned if you need to.
Once all the scanning is done, you will need to move the pictures from the rented laptop to your own storage medium. An archival DVD disc is provided, but it wasn’t an option for me since my MacBook Air doesn’t have a DVD drive. I chose to move my scanned photos to an external hard drive that I could then use to move the photos to my computer.
After you double check that your photos are now in your possession, simply pack everything back up and drop it off at the same location you picked the equipment up at (the shipping labels are provided for you). Here’s what my aftermath looked like:
Some tips to make things easier and more fun:
- Plan your strategy beforehand (take the albums apart, prep into batches of 25 pictures, etc.). Basically have everything ready to go when you pick up the equipment and it will be an extremely smooth process.
- Remember that you don’t have to scan everything. I recommend only keeping the good pictures that you will want to look at in the future.
- Make sure you have enough space to save the scanned pictures beforehand if you won’t be using the provided DVD. Since you are scanning to a rented laptop you have to have a place to move them to before sending the equipment back.
- Make sure you have some good music or podcasts to listen to during the scanning process. It’s a long and tedious one, but this makes it a lot more enjoyable.
- Don’t stop in the middle of a batch of photos because you will forget what you were doing and it will take time to get back in the flow of where you were.
- Invite your friends over for a photo scanning party. I know the process was a lot more enjoyable when my husband was helping me out. It went faster and we shared many laughs over the memories!
I’m relieved I was able to find a much quicker process to get all my old photo albums digitized. Do know that, depending on the number of photos scanned, having them all backed up somewhere may take awhile if it’s to a service like Backblaze or Dropbox. Be sure to make certain the backup is complete before disposing of your photos.
- This process was surprisingly emotionally and physically draining for me. I re-lived 20+ years of memories in 3 days and did a lot of sitting and getting up and down to arrange everything which caused some low back pain.
- Seeing all the memories are a great reminder of the growth you’ve done throughout the years and gives you an appreciation for where you are today.
- Viewing so many memories was a great reminder of how close my family used to be and has motivated me to do what I can to try to create a closer knit family again.
- Seeing the memories has also encouraged me to ask more questions about the past so I can understand my family history better.
This was awesome Melissa, thank you. I had no idea these photo scanner rental services exist. It sounds like a great option if you are not comfortable sending your photos off to a service.