How Memories Can Last A Lifetime (And Then Some)

Many people are great at taking photos, but not-so-great at what comes after.

They’ve got you surrounded. But they will not defeat you.

Everywhere you look–strewn all over the floor, fanned out across the coffee table, and, yes, even piled up on the sofa–lurks the image of a distant memory, long-forgotten place, or familiar face. You’ve accumulated a staggering number of photographs over the years and, now, you are faced with the job of organizing them.
Many people are great at taking photos, but not-so-great at what comes after.

Many people are great at taking photos, but not-so-great at what comes after.

Have no fear. They may have you outnumbered, but remember–you are sharper than even the highest resolution photo and brighter than even the most brilliant shot of the sun (although taking pictures of the sun is not, perhaps, the most intelligent thing you have ever done).

An app like Mylio helps you organize all your photos across all your devices. That means less time sorting your photos and more time appreciating them. But first you’ve got to get all those old photos into digital form.

Size Up the Job

As you look around at your photograph-covered living room, you will need to ask yourself which photos are keepers and which ones are not. Blurs, flash mistakes, and stray thumb shots can go straight into the trash. Unrecognizable places from long-forgotten vacations, redundant duplicate shots, and unidentifiable images are next. Scanning photos is a time-consuming endeavor, so you will not want to waste it on meaningless mystery shots.

Clean the Scanner

Your scanner will capture whatever is placed on its glass–including not just your image, but also any fingerprints, stray hairs, or dust. That’s why it is important to clean your scanner bed before scanning photos. Do not reach for your favorite window cleaner as it will leave streaks. Instead, wipe with a cloth slightly dampened with water or a dab of white vinegar. For advice on the best way to clean your scanner, see “How to Clean Your Scanner Glass.”

Select Your Settings

Most scanners come with a variety of settings that allow you to preserve your photos in a number of ways. You may want to play around with the settings before you begin, in order to maximize your pictures’ clarity.

10 Tips for Scanning Old Photos” recommends using a 600 dpi setting or higher to achieve a more professional looking result, and scanning black and white or sepia-hued photos into color in order to increase your ability to later manipulate the image.

Opt for a Scanning Company

If you’d rather have your nipples sewn to your forehead than scan that heaping mess of photos, there is good news. There are companies out there that are willing to scan them for you–for a price, of course. In fact, TechHive’s “The Best and Worst Services for Digitizing Your Photos” rates several of the leading contenders including ScanCafe, GoPhoto, DigMyPics, ScanDigital, and ScanMyPhotos. You can also pick from an array of photo organizing software options to quickly organize, sync, and protect your images.

You can transform that massive pile of random photos into a well-organized collection of carefully labeled digital images, preserving them for years to come. And sparing future generations from finding themselves in a photo-organizing quandary of similarly epic proportions.

What tips can you offer someone who wants to digitize their photo collection?