The Imaging Alliance Presents: The Ultimate Guide to Bringing Your Photos Into The Digital Age

Our friends at The Imaging Alliance have put together four helpful guides for imaging enthusiasts. We’ll be sharing one a week this August. You’ll find any additional editorial comments inside brackets. Enjoy! – Blog Master

Get Started

The idea of scanning boxes and albums full of photos may seem daunting, but the old adage still holds true: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” You didn’t create your collection of photos, slides, and important documents overnight – so don’t expect to digitize it overnight.

Approach As A Fun Adventure

You’re about to wander down memory lane. Enjoy it! You’ll be reliving the moments that you felt worthy of capturing in the first place – and that your ancestors did as well!

Themed Album

Bring everything into one location—all the photos, slides, film movies, video tape, backup computer files, and so on—and organize with your output in mind. Grouping by theme is a great way to make it easy to enjoy the digitized output!


Decide how you want to access your photos in the future. This can be chronological or by people, activities, and so on. [Remember that if you’re having the techs at Mike’s Camera digitize for you, they won’t know your family history. Any desired organization needs to happen beforehand.—DS] We find that a couple of words to describe your photos to make them easier to label and find is helpful: date, event, people/place. Example, May – 1980, Graduation, Rick

Evaluate Scanning Options

There are 3 options: Do it yourself, Have a professional scanner do it for you, or a mixture of both. If you are hiring a professional scanner, be sure to read customer reviews and experiences in order to help you in your search! [You are also welcome to stop into any Mike’s Camera location to look at samples and discuss the process in-depth with our imaging specialists.—DS]

Have Others Scan

The range of options are wide. You can have a Photo Organizer come into your home and take on the project completely, making your work minimal. You can also bring your photos into a local store that provides on-site scanning or that offers mail-away services (scanning is done domestically and internationally, so understand how they scan – and what you are comfortable with). You can also mail them away yourself! Be sure to understand all your pricing options and set yourself a budget that works best for you.

DIY Scanning

Evaluate what types of photos and documents you plan to scan and where they are located. If many photos are in photo albums, you may want to scan from the album so as to not damage the photo, and to also capture any information that was written on the album page.

There are a multitude of scanning options available to you. You can purchase scanning equipment, rent equipment, and go to locations such as libraries that often provide flatbed scanners to their patrons. Scanning slides/movies/videos is a different project, and often times it might be good to evaluate having someone else do the scanning for you in these special cases. [Please note that high-quality scanning takes a very, very long time at the consumer level, and any equipment that can scan photos quickly is very expensive. If you have a large archive and don’t mind abdicating direct control, having us scan for you would be highly recommended.—DS]

Photo Restoration

You likely have photos that have seen better days—torn, cracked, damp and moldy. All of these states seem to cause irreparable damage to photos. Don’t worry—help exists. You can either learn fairly complex software and do a complete restoration yourself, or you can hire someone to do this service. Prices for these services vary, but for particularly damaged photos, these same services can be a lifesaver.

Photo Improvement

You probably also have many photos that have faded due to light, heat, humidity, and other environmental factors—including all your snapshots and those in frames. These photos can also be improved by photo restoration professionals. You can also find plenty of easy to use software that will aid you in this task!

 A Blast From The Past Album

Do you still have a shoebox of dusty old sepia photos or black and whites? Dust these treasures off and choose 30-40 photos to have scanned at a high resolution. Upload these images to a photo book printer and add any details about relatives that you can recall. Make several copies to share and enjoy with your family. Don’t forget to store your old prints in a photo safe box or album for safe keeping. These heirloom photos need to be protected from heat, humidity, and light.

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