Photographs are the story of our lives in image form. Photos can represent important dates and help us remember events and people that were special or memorable in our lives. While digital cameras have made recording and organizing the images of our lives much easier, many of us still have thousands of photographs in shoeboxes and closets. Although the fun of looking through photo albums and displaying photos in picture frames will never get old, it is still important to protect your pictures.
Get Your Pictures Organized
Getting all of your old photos digitized may seem like an enormous job but it can be a lot easier if you start out organized.
The first thing you want to do is make a plan of how you're going to digitize your old photos. For instance, it may be best to work solely on family pictures, then on friends, or perhaps work backwards through time year by year. Whatever you decide is entirely up to you, however, if you have an organized approach it will make finding them on your hard drive a whole lot easier. And, by doing this you'll also end up organizing your pictures too.
Next, you want to create a folder on your computer that will represent your photo library. The more organized you keep your photo library or folders the easier it will be to find your pictures when you want them. In the end, it doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you can easily find things quickly and easiliy.
Get a Quality Scanner
If you're planning on digitizing your library entirely on your own, you'll need a good scanner. You can find scanners in a wide range of price and quality so figure out what you need before you start shopping. When shopping for a quality scanner you want a scanner with a good scan resolution so look for one with a 1200dpi minimum. Any photos you scan at a resolution of under 1200dpi are going to suffer from serious loss of quality if reprinted. Look for a good scanner to run you between $150 and $300.
It's also a good idea to pick up an external hard drive for backing up your entire digital library. With digital, there is the risk of losing your images so the best thing to do is create multiple backups right away in case anything were to happen. There is nothing worse than having to scan all of your images a second time because you had some sort of hardware failure.
As soon as you have pictures organized into sections, it's time to get started. First thing you want to do is look at how many pictures you have in each section and break them up into smaller manageable sections that you can do in a single sitting. Two hours a night may not sound like much at first, but if you stick to it you'll have a fully-functional digital archive in no time without seriously compromising your free time.
Make sure to do minor corrections to photographs as they are scanned to save time down the line, but avoid the urge to overhaul each and every image. There will be plenty of time to adjust the color balance or hue of each individual photo, but it is easy to lose yourself in this process. Instead, concentrate on things like cropping, rotation and saving the image in the right folder and keep on scanning.
If you don't have the time to scan images yourself, you may consider outsourcing the digitizing process to someone else. Speak with an employee at your local brick and mortar store to see what sort of digitizing services they can offer, or consider going with one of the many services on the web such as ScanDigital.com, DigMyPics.com, or ScanCafe.com.
Getting your favorite old photos digitized doesn't have to be overwhelming. With the right plan of attack, it can be accomplished in less time than you may think. Set your goals, know what you want from your digital library, and have fun - the rest will take care of itself.
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