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How to Digitize Old Photos in 2021?

Physical photos are being phased out, and fast. In this article, you will learn how to digitize old photos quickly.

They say a photo tells a thousand words, and this statement has been proven to be true beyond reasonable doubt throughout human history. From the picture of the Wright brothers’ first aircraft to the picture of the first Moon landing, photos have always helped to explain history better than the best of writers. Fortunately, or unfortunately, physical photos are being phased out, and fast.

Gone are the days of developing black-and-white negatives, and printing in color is no longer the best option: now we’re at an age where soft copies are more preferred than their physical counterparts. In the process, we risk losing significant parts of our stories, family histories and memories that can only be told in motionless imagery, so something must be done to prevent this.

I’m an emotional being and tend to be sentimental about anything and everything that is important to me and induces nostalgia, and although I love my smart home and all the modern accessories it is packed with, I am a bit old-fashioned. That is why I still love keeping happy memories printed and framed. Despite that, I’ve accepted that we as beings adapt and change alongside technology and quickly learned how to digitize old photos.

Why Go Digital?

Forget about throwing away the best memories your camera ever had the opportunity of shooting since there’s a win-win solution for everyone—and that is digitizing old photos. Why should you digitize your photos? The real question is, what’s in it for you? Perhaps, it is how you can keep your family history alive.

Honestly, digitizing physical photos is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, it often requires a lot of dedication, time, and effort. As for me, I first thought that leaving photos in old shoeboxes and traditional photo albums was much easier than going all modern. So, I had to find reasons why to digitize photos, and I found them. So, here are the top three reasons why digitizing photos is the best way of keeping them:

  • Digital photos can be easily shared with friends and family.

Digital copies give everyone the chance of holding on to dear memories. They can also be shared easily with family members, which is also a convenient way of creating backup copies.

  • Physical photos can easily get damaged.

From discoloration and water damage to pets and children tearing things apart, there are a lot of factors that can damage physical photos. Wear and tear is also a real threat. A physical picture can be ruined in seconds. With digital copies, you don’t have to worry about losing entire family stories due to an accident.

  • Storing physical photos takes too much space.

Physical photos occupy real space, leading to heaps of clutter in your house if neglected.

Upon realizing the benefits of digitizing pictures, I decided to go digital. Here is what I learned before, during and after the process and what can help you out as well.

Preparation Steps Before Digitizing Photos

Regardless of how you choose to digitize your old photos, you need to get prepared first. The big question is whether you should do it at all. If you want to organize your home, create more space and simply save these old photos, then yes, you should do it. Digitizing old photos doesn’t take away anything from you and your family. Rather, it gives you the option of having them in easy-access formats. After digitizing, they can be kept electronically and even shared via WhatsApp, Telegram, and the likes.

So, you see, there’s nothing to fret about. To learn how to digitize your old photos, follow the steps below:

  1. Sort through your old photos. These are some of your most important memories, so they must be treated with respect. Group the photos according to various specifications, such as date, location, and people featured in them. This will help you identify similar or identical pictures, allowing you to select just one or two for scanning.
  2. Get the necessary equipment for the digitizing process. You can either use your scanner or go to a studio where professional-grade scanners are used.
  3. Select your storage method. The major challenge of having old photos digitized is choosing a proper storage location, and you need to sort that out before you start digitizing your pictures. Otherwise, you will be left with lots of photos in all the wrong places. Consider using a trusted cloud storage system that will make sharing easier and won't cost an arm and a leg. I strongly advise using FileWhopper for sharing digital photos.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the selected scanner. If you decide to go DIY, make sure to learn the ropes before you start digitizing your photos. Should you select an app, then also learn the settings, make adjustments where necessary and practice with a few copies before getting started.
  5. Finally, scan your photos. The result will depend on the age and quality of your physical photos and the tool you selected for the task. Then put your photos into one folder and share it with your friends and family via a trusted service. We already mentioned FileWhopper since it’s perfect for this purpose.

Below are some of the most common ways to digitize old photos.

The Most Common Methods of Digitizing Old Photos

Unlike modern pictures that keep up with the times and are at the cutting edge of technology, old physical photos were taken a long time ago and may seem outdated. However, they are not past their sell-by date yet and contain memories that cannot be recreated. Digitize your most treasured photos first, and if you still have the strength and will, then you can scan the entire collection.

Scan Photos at Home Using a Scanner

This method of preserving some of your best memories requires a lot of dedication. You need a scanner at home, a couple of wine boxes or several kettles of tea and a comfortable couch for the next one to two weeks.

Digitizing photos at home helps you manage your time. Your pictures can be scanned over the weekends to avoid wasting time during the weekdays. However, the main advantage of this method is that you have full control over the process. You could even invite your friends and family members to help you out, which may help you bond over the process.

There is no perfect tool for digitizing old photos. However, your best bet will always be a flatbed scanner as it will most likely cause less damage to your delicate photos. You can start with the most popular printer brands such as Epson and Canon. They are good enough for scanning pictures that are up to 8x10 in size.

If you have a roomier budget, opt for Kodak Scanza—a device that can scan the original negative. It is perfect for old negative films that are fully packed with memories. The scanner will convert your old film photos into new, digital images that are ready to be uploaded to your cloud platform. There’s also Epson Perfection V600, which comes with the option of scanning old films and already printed photos. You can do even better by looking for a scanner that goes beyond the initial requirement of just scanning old pictures by correcting the color and throwing in a couple of edits while at it.

There are also high-end scanners that can be used to digitize your old photos. However, using one of them may make a dent in your savings, so before anything else, check if the product you want to use suits your budget. There are scanners specifically meant to scan multiple photos quickly. These scanners require the bare minimum amount of work on your end, but you must bear the cost of buying them. Consider getting Epson FastFoto FF-680W, which can scan your pictures as fast as 1 photo per second. This wireless printer comes with the option of saving your pictures directly to the cloud platform of your choosing. Another good example is the Doxie Go SE photo scanner. Using this device, I discovered that it’s possible to scan photos directly to an SD card. This is a small scanner that runs on battery power but executes its function amazingly well.

Use Apps to Digitize Photos

This method doesn’t cost much and also doesn’t take up much of your time. This is a real solution for quickly scanning old photos. You would want to use this option if you’re not up to investing in a picture scanner. A scanner app comes in handy if you’re on vacation at the family country house and you come across a box full of pictures that you would like to convert.

Use a photo scanner app to come up with professional-looking pictures without shadows or burnt edges. You can use it to reduce glare and distortion.

Here are some photo scanner apps that you can use to get the most out of your old photos:

  • Photo Scan by Photomyne (The tool is compatible with Android, but a subscription is required to use it.)
  • PhotoScan for iOS and Android (The app is free.)
  • AppInitio Ltd.’s Pic Scanner for iOS (The app costs $3.99.)
  • Memories by IdeaSolutions (No fee is required.)
  • Photomyne’s Photo Scanner Plus for iOS (The app costs $1.99.)

Employ the Services of a Third Party That Specializes in Photo Scanning

If you’re still looking for the best way to digitize old photos, it means the methods above don’t meet your requirements or budget. The third method of converting old photos to digital copies is outsourcing the job. While doing so may cost you a lot, you won’t have to spend much time on getting your photos digitized.

First of all, you need to find a trusted service provider. After all, your pictures are not just old family photos that you need to digitize – they are your precious memories. You can’t afford to entrust the task to someone who will not put enough effort into the process or, worse, will lose some of the physical copies before digitizing them. Therefore, make sure you are dealing with the best provider. This lets you know that your pictures will be taken care of, and that is comforting.

Consider using the likes of DigMyPics, Scan Café and Scan My Photos. If you don’t mind having to send your photos and receiving them back in a box, then you can get started using any of these providers. However, if you want to somehow be involved or have peace of mind knowing you can go back for your physical copies anytime, then select the services of a local provider.

Enjoy Your Digitized Photos

Now that you have digitized your old photos, you see that there’s significantly less clutter. Digital pictures are easy to keep, and most importantly, they’re sharable. You can start sharing pictures with the members of your family or your friends for creative showcases. Some of you might create slideshows and use treasured memories to induce euphoria at big events, such as your grandma’s birthday or someone’s wedding day. Use some of the pictures to mend broken family relationships or even form new ones. Whatever you decide, your options are endless, but you’re sure to have fun with your digital copies.

Share Your Photos via FileWhopper
After scanning your pictures, you need a way to easily share them with friends and family. While most file sharing services require subscriptions of some sort, FileWhopper, which is an easy-to-use file sharing service, allows you to pay a one-off fee depending on how much data you are willing to send. Here is how to use the service to share your digitized photos:
1. Click Choose folder and select the folder containing your recently digitized photos.
2. Allow FileWhopper to evaluate the size of your folder and provide you with a quote.
3. Proceed with the upload if you are OK with it.
4. Copy the link to your folder and share it with your recipient(s).
5. Get the password that secures your encrypted folder and share it with the recipients you’re sharing the folder with.
6. Your folder will be kept online for 14 days unless you indicate the need for more time. During this period, your recipients can securely download the folder.
At the moment, FileWhopper is running an awesome special: if you are a first-time user, you can share up to 5GB for free. Take advantage of the promotion and share whatever you like.
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