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How to Digitize and Organize Old Photos

Answers by CanvasPop is a weekly blog series featuring responses to your printing, photography, décor or art questions. Check back each week for more content! Have a question? Let us know at answers@canvaspop.com.

For most people, personal photographs are some of their most coveted worldly possessions. They represent your memories — where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, and who you saw it with. Simply put, they are irreplaceable. With the technology that we have in this day and age, we think it’s important to make sure those memories are properly backed up. Whether it’s through digitization, tucking away extra copies in a safe place, or perhaps turning them into beautiful canvas prints that will last a lifetime. When it comes to backing up those paper prints or negatives, digitizing them is the best way to go. Below are some helpful tips to help you get started.

USE A SCANNER
Scanning your paper prints, negatives, or slides with a good quality scanner at a high resolution is one of the best ways to do them justice! Not only is this a great way to easily access and organize your photos, but those files will also allow for the best print quality later on down the line. Before you get started, ensure you remove all dust and dirt from both the photos and the scanning glass. We suggest scanning the photos in at about 600 dpi.

Our friends at Mashable recommend scanning devices such as Kodak’s P811R Personal Photo and Negative Scanner as well as the CanoScan 9000FOnce completed, be sure to back those new files up to multiple devices. It’s always better to cover all your bases where you can!

SCAN WITH YOUR PHONE
Isn’t it amazing the things a smartphone can do these days? With the emergence of high quality phones, apps, and mobile cameras you now have the ability to digitize your photos via your cellphone. This option is perfect for those of you out there who don’t have access to a scanner, or need to scan a photo on the fly. Keep in mind however, that this option won’t produce the same high quality results as option one will.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect app for you — we recommend  Shoebox or DocScanner — you’re ready to get started. Make sure your photo and camera lens are both clean, and free of debris. Locate a space full of natural light, and with as few shadows as possible to perform the scan. Hold the phone steady and start scanning, once you have the file uploaded feel free to crop and adjust as necessary.

OUTSOURCE THE WORKLOAD
Digitizing a lifetime of memories takes alot of time, and alot of patience. If you’re short on either of these things, why not outsource the work to a trusted third party? There are dozens of companies who will take in your photos, treat them with care, and produce some high quality image files. At a great price too! The good people over at CNET recommend checking out ScanDigital.com.

KEEP IT ORGANIZED
Now that you’ve completed the task of  digitizing those photos, it’s important to keep them nice and organized for future access. If you’ve gone the smartphone scanning route, check out this post for some fantastic photo management apps. If you’ve scanned the photos into your computer, we stress the importance of backing up those files on an external hardrive. You won’t regret this decision! For more information on how to store, organize, and share your photos check out this great article via PC Mag.