A guest post by Wendy Dessler

Inside: Learn how you can digitize old photos and preserve precious memories for generations to come.

There’s always a time in your life when you come across some old family treasures, maybe when you move into the family home, or when you visit the farmhouse attic.

There might even be a family photo album that’s falling apart, and no one blames you for wanting to preserve your family history. 

In this post we will talk about how to:

  • digitize old photos
  • create backup systems
  • preserve & enjoy your memories

How to Digitize Old Photos

The easiest way might be to take photos of those pictures themself, but it’s not the best way to go about this. The suggested method to do this is to sort your photos, pick and choose what you want to save or digitize, add your finishing touches and save wherever you want to. 

We’ll talk about all the things that would make this process the easiest for you, and even give you some tips on what kind of equipment you’ll need! 

Edit the Photos If Needed 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s suggested that you touch old photos up a bit once they’re scanned. You can learn how to do edit flyaway hair in the most natural way possible.

Not only will your ancestors thank you for the touch-ups, but you’ll also be able to clear up any tears in the photo that translated into the scan, color correct your family photos, and much more. 

Choose Which Ones To Scan 

When you find your family albums, or decide to scan any old documents and photos, it might be a good idea to sort them in a certain order before you start working.

This way, you might find that you don’t need to scan every single photograph, which means less work for you. This is also a great opportunity to declutter the photos you have and create a more manageable amount of photos to work with.

digitize old photos

You can sort them by:

  • Date 
  • Event 
  • Person 

Once you’re done doing this, pick and choose how many photos you want to digitize, and get to work. 

Do You Have The Right Equipment? 

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Flatbed scanners are a great option to scan your photos with, but you may not need to buy one if you have an office printer handy.

The reason? Many office printers function as fax machines, scanners, printers, and photocopiers all in one. 

They’re even more flexible than flatbed scanners when it comes to size, but some of them might compromise a bit on quality. 

Scanners come in a variety of price points, but keep in mind the end goal is to digitize old photos and preserve your family memories so the cheapest option may not be the best.

If you want to speed the process up a bit, or are looking for extra features like WiFi connectivity in your scanners, consider buying a more expensive option. 

What Quality Scans Do You Need? 

The scanner setting needs to be calibrated in dots per inch or DPI, and the end result will be sharper the higher you set it.

A setting of 300 DPI is fine if you aren’t too picky about the photo quality, but a resolution of 600 DPI ensures that all details are translated onto the resulting image. 

digitize old photos

You can choose a setting as high as 1200 DPI if you want to enlarge the photo into posters or for printing in the future. 

After You Digitize Old Photos, Create a Backup Plan 

Now that your photos are being digitized, it’s important to consider where and how you want to store and backup your digital files.

You have over three options to choose from: 

  1. Cloud Storage 
  2. Your Computer 
  3. External Storage 

There are pros and cons of each type of storage, from the flexibility offered by Cloud storage to the dependability of having your photos stored in an external device.

We suggest that not only should you pick your preferred method of storage, but you also need to back them up in a second or third location, just to be safe. 

Remember, the whole reason you’re going through so much trouble is to save your family photos, so it would be frustrating if they ended up being lost or accidentally deleted anyway. 

Storing old photos

If you want to store old photos, that is fine too. Just make sure they are well organized so that you can enjoy the pictures rather than being overwhelmed by them.

Use acid free albums and photo storage boxes to store old photos and preserve your memories.

digitize old photos

Choose the Settings You Want 

Many modern scanners come with a variety of options to choose from, ranging from the resolution, to what format the photos are to be saved in, and where you want them to be saved.

You can save some of your photos straight from the scanner onto cloud storage, and then edit them later. 

Run a Test 

Before you start scanning all your photos, make sure you have your settings right. You don’t want to put in all this time only to find out that your photos aren’t being saved the way you want.

This will also help if this is your first time running a scanner. Take your time to get used to different settings on the scanner, see how the results look on each setting, and to figure out what you need.

You can even research what file formats are best for your purposes before you start your project. 

Scan and Edit 

After you’re done scanning all your photos, it’s time to edit them so they look their best.

Sometimes this entails removing any blemishes or signs of age, sometimes covering up tears in the original photo, and sometimes sharpening them up a bit. 

digitize old photos

An expert photo editor might even be able to help you put some color into the photos, and add or remove items you don’t want or need in there.

Be careful though! You’re doing all this to preserve family photos, and editing them beyond a certain point will only harm that goal of yours. Don’t edit them so much that they don’t look like their original version anymore. 

What’s more, if you want to add color to an old photo or sharpen them up a bit, you might want to hang on to the original version as well. 

Hire an expert

If you think this job is too technical for you, don’t hesitate to take all your photos to an expert, or at least someone who’s experienced in this kind of thing.

Handling old photos can be hard sometimes, and you could also end up damaging fragile prints and old portraits. On the same note, it’s not a good idea to edit scanned versions of different documents, as this will only damage their legitimacy.

Digitize Old Photos and Enjoy Your Family Memories

Taking the time to digitize old photos does take time and effort, but it’s worth it to get your family photos organized and preserved.

You’ll be able to easily access your files and enjoy your family memories after getting your photos digitized and organized. And you’ll also be able to hand them down to the next generation!


Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing.

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