Ten Good Reasons to Scan Your Old Slides and Photographs

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Most of us who are past a “certain age” (read pre-digital) probably have boxes of old photographs, slides and negatives sitting around in various storage locations . In addition, there are probably many old photo albums sitting in closets, attics, basements, or storage lockers.

Well, we have now completely entered the digital age, and these traces of an earlier time are sort of like modern artifacts. We all realize they are there, but we don't really think about them much anymore. The key, obviously, is to get these photographic treasures of our past scanned and converted into digital files – basically, we need to bring them into the Digital Now.

Of course, that's what we should do. But, most of us just keep procrastinating and putting it off. Often, it's because we just haven't thought through all the reasons why getting that material scanned is important – but it really is! Here's why:

  • All photographic materials will deteriorate with time. The rate of decay is different for various materials, but it is happening to all of your photographic memories just the same.
  • Old slides and negatives tend to color-shift over time. This happens when the film base gradually changes with age. The dyes used to form the image can also fade – most noticeably in the case of color photographs.
  • As soon as you digitize your pictures, that deterioration is arrested. Perhaps more importantly, the digitized images can, in many cases, be brought back to their original glory with relative ease, if the changes have not been too great. In addition, there are now digital storage disks that are expected to last for over 100 years.
  • If you have a lot of slides, to view your slides, you have to dig out your old projector (if it still works – tried to find a projector bulb recently?), or a slide viewer, in order to see them.
  • If you have old negatives, you really can't view them at all – unless you have some sort of rare genetic ability to invert colors on your own.
  • Due to a technical oversight, the manufacturers of old photo albums neglected to install USB ports (it may have to do with the fact that the technology hadn't been invented yet). That means, unfortunately, there is no easy way to upload them to your computer. A scanning service, however, can scan not only the full album pages (to preserve the “flavor” of the album), but they can also scan the individual pictures as well, if desired.
  • Your past is really important – not just to you, but also to your children, your grandchildren (if any) and other relatives. Your photos represent the best (often, the only) record of that past. By bringing them into digital form, you can share them with all the important people in your life.
  • Once they exist as digital files, all of your old photographs can be shared easily. You can post them to your Facebook pages, upload them to Pinterest, and share them on all your favorite social media sites.
  • Uploading your scanned photos onto your computer turns it into a time machine. Now, all those treasured (or, in some cases – forgotten) parts of your history can be pulled up at a moment's notice, to be enjoyed and shared.
  • When they are available in digital form, those wonderful mementos can be restored and repaired as much as needed. So, even if your photographic memories have lost some of their detail, the photographs of earlier times can be viewed as though it all happened yesterday.
  • There is one last – really important – reason for digitizing this important part of your heritage – it is the best way of insuring these treasures against the real possibility of a sudden, catastrophic loss. The News these days often seems to be a non-stop series of reports about severely damaging weather that causes floods, and wind damage.

    Many families have had all their belongings either damaged or lost completely. While their photos may not be as immediately critical as many other possessions, their loss will still be profoundly felt, because they are so irreplaceable. Fires are another cause of this kind of catastrophic loss. Whatever the cause of these tragic losses might be, they can all be completely avoided if those precious photos have previously been digitized and uploaded to the Cloud, and/or stored on discs in multiple locations.

    Don't keep delaying the project of preserving your photographic past. While it may, at first, seem like a huge job, once you get started with it you will find that not only is it a lot of fun, but it's highly rewarding and enjoyable as well. If you have a fairly large amount of material to be scanned, a good scanning service will offer some sort of a monthly program option. This will allow you to spread out the cost, as well as reducing the time involved to get each batch organized for scanning, by making it easy and convenient for you to send your photographs in for scanning in smaller batches over a period of time.

    One other worthwhile service offered by a good scanning service is their ability to provide you with both photograph restoration and photo editing services. That way, all your needs can be met by one scanning service provider – sort of a one-stop shop for all your photo preservation needs.

    Frank Arnoth is a retired Senior Development Engineer (machine design) who has taken his strong interest in photography and used it to start a new business: Digital Conversions LLC. The Company offers a full line of photo scanning services as well as providing photograph restoration and retouching (editing) services. They offer a Monthly Program for scanning work as well as offering free scans to introduce new Customers to the Company.

    What are your thoughts?