It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that we were dropping our film rolls off at our neighborhood photo store or the local Walgreen’s. With photos, we have quickly switched from analog to digital and then progressed so far down the latter road that the idea of waiting an hour or more to see how our images turn out seems incredibly quaint now.
But most of us are still sitting on the output of many years of the film era and doing very little about them. There are gems in this stash that span time, place and occasion – old black and whites, sepia-toned portraits, wedding pictures, baby and children’s photos (from before the digital revolution) and a whole lot more.
If you are like most people, your print photos are bundled within shoeboxes or trapped inside forgotten photo albums. It is not that easy to retrieve specific memories from this pile, let alone relive them. And then there is the not-so-minor matter of preservation. Acid-free storage can help to an extent but the longer we wait, the more we expose our photos to the twin risks of damage and disaster.
Even if you have an emergency plan for evacuating your photos to safe ground in the event of a fire, your physical photos are vulnerable due to the very fact that they are physical. That means that age, mildew and other environmental conditions can and will get to them eventually.
Granted, organizing and scanning a large physical photo collection is not a painless project. Most people intend to get started but find perfectly valid reasons to backburner it: it’s messy; it takes too much time; it’s hard to know where to begin…and so on. This is where a quality photo scanning service can step in and help get the job done – quickly, cost-effectively and with minimum pain.
The payoff from the effort is tremendous. Not only is your collection now safe (as long as it is stored and doubly backed up) but it is much easier to work with in many, many ways.
Take the problem of searching for a specific photo in your collection. We have all gone through one of these scenarios. You would like to send your mom an e-card for Mother’s Day with a timeless shot of the two of you. You have one in mind – a vintage picture of you and her in the backyard of your childhood home. Now imagine sifting through piles of photos spread across a few shoeboxes to find it. It’s likely to be a frustrating exercise and you may soon give up hope and settle for another one that is not quite as apt, in your mind. On the other hand, if your photos were all scanned and stored in folders on your computer, it would be much easier to flip through these as you look for the right photo. You can also plop your scanned digital photos on platforms such as Google Photos or Amazon Prime Photos and let their search algorithms – with built-in face recognition – go to work for you. Before long, your screen will serve it up – the image of your mother smiling in the afternoon sun while holding your three-year-old self in her arms. Use a photo app to add a filter, embellishment, and message before sending it to your mom. Nothing says ‘I love you’ better than a beautiful memory from the past.
Your imagination and motivation are the limits when it comes to working with digital images. You can quickly create photo books of time periods or events from the past. Bundle all your class portraits and school trip pictures in a school years album. Create a book of all the unforgettable moments from the “Summer of ’89”. Sift through the baby pictures of your firstborn and put together an album of all the ones that make you smile (warning: it’s not easy to narrow these down!)
With your entire photo collection just a few mouse clicks or finger taps away, sharing through your social networks becomes a lot easier and more interesting. If you have been recycling the same set of images of you and your siblings for Throwback Thursday on social media, now you will have many more to pick from. Finding and sharing a memory to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or relationship will no longer need a lot of lead time.
Clearly, print and paper are not dead, as we can see from the way paperbacks continue to hold their own against e-readers. Moving our photos from analog to digital also doesn’t make the originals less valuable or less important to preserve. But it insures these memories against loss or destruction while making it easier to spread their light around.
Make yourself a promise to get started on your photo scanning project at the earliest. With a little bit of help, it’s much easier than you think.