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Tip060: How to scan old photos

So, you opened that closet. The one with all the old photos and photo albums in it and you’ve decided you want to get them all into digital form. Where do you start? You should probably sort them first, usually by year. Then you need to start weeding them out. Yes, you should toss the ones that are not worth the effort. But, we’re not here to talk about that! We’re just going to talk about how to digitize your chosen photos. If you want some guidance on the overall process, we recommend the Photo Managers organization. They have books, articles, videos and courses that cover the entire process of digitizing all your memories.

I take a more haphazard approach. I might be talking to a friend and the subject of Mexico comes up. I remember the time when I was a kid that my family traveled to Mexico City and I think I have photos of our Truck Camper in a campground there. If I can find those photos – either loose or in an album – I want to get them into digital format to store along with all my other photos. That situation occurs regularly, and I’ve collected quite a lot of old photos into my digital collection. How is this done?

Four ways to digitize old photos or photo albums

  1. Scanning equipment – either flatbed scanners or single photo scanners
  2. Scanning services – box up your memories and send them off for someone else to scan
  3. Snap photos of photos with your smartphone
  4. Use a scanning app on your smartphone

In any case, the end goal is to gather all your digital photos in one place in order by date. My choice is Google Photos. This can be done with any of the 4 techniques above. For #3 and #4 it would be automatic since the photos will be on your smartphone and they can automatically be uploaded to Google Photos from there.

Of the 4 options above, my favorite is to simply snap a photo of a photo using my smartphone. You might be surprised at how good they come out. Especially after just a couple of editing clicks. Here are examples:

Just use smartphone to snap a photo of an old picture

A simple crop and a color adjustment and it looks pretty good

Top – just snapped a photo from a photo album.
Bottom – a crop and b&w filter
Just take your smartphone and snap a photo of a photo. They may not be the best quality possible, but it’s sure quick and easy and they can automatically be part of your Google Photos lifetime of photos.

Learn more …


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