How To Digitize Your Photos

Remember when you insisted all the family gather around your one-year-old child’s birthday cake to take a photo? Yes, we all love memories. There are quite a number of events in life that we wish to capture and make them last a lifetime. Photography enabled us to do just that. In the instant of a flash, you can picture the smiles of your beloved ones. Unfortunately, photographs are not as time resistant as we wish them to be. Indeed, they age and their once vibrant colors fade away, taking the attached memories with them. However, there is a way to make them eternal — digitize them.

 Young brunette female, sitting with her golden retriever, looking at a stack of pictures.  A table sits in the background. On the table is a VHS, film reel, vintage camera, box of slides and a woven wicker basked containing more memories. The female is reminiscing over memories past. The top picture in her hand is from a recent family vacation. Her father sits on his bike, overlooking an evergreen forest after a day of outdoor activities.

Option 1: use your existing flatbed scanner

The most cost-savvy option is to use your existing flatbed scanner. To scan photo prints, a resolution of 300 DPI (or dots per inch) should be sufficient, but 600 DPI is recommended. However, to scan slides or negatives, a DPI of at least 2,400 is necessary, and not usually available on non-professional scanners.

Start by cleaning your photos, using a makeup brush or microfiber cloth to remove dust and fingerprints. If you are a neat freak, you may also want to clean your scanner's glass for optimal results. A professional tip is to scan multiple photos at once, up to four 4x6 photos should fit on your scanner. Once you have scanned the photos, open your photo editing software to crop the images and remove unwanted rounded sides. You may also straighten them if needed, and correct the color to a more natural tone.

Option 2: purchase a slide and negative scanner

The second option is to purchase a slide and negative scanner, which start at $99. Of course, if you are seeking a professional scanner with optimal quality, the price can rise to a few thousand dollars. These usually support a variety of formats and are faster than a regular scanner. All you have to do is to feed it your slides or negatives, and the images will be saved as JPEG files on your computer or SD/SDHC memory card. Some of them can even be plugged into your TV to create a slideshow.

However, the quality of your scanned in slides may not be satisfactory, as these scanners will not replace a proper restoration. A professional photo editing software such as Photoshop, and some serious technical skills will be required to bring back the vibrant colors of your images and take off the undesirable yellowish tint that appeared on your slides or negatives over time. As you can probably imagine, taking away the aging elements of your photos may be a lengthy process.

 Grouping of negatives, black and white photography and slides. Photography showcases two smiling couples dressed for their senior prom. A stack of Southtree DVDs containing digitized memories sits in the bottom right corner. The top DVD's title is, "Yellowstone 1978." The lens of a vintage camera peeks in from the top right corner. All items sit on a sky blue background. Image shows the before and after of having your memories professionally digitized.

Option 3: hire a professional

If you want to avoid the DIY headache and have your photos professionally digitized to the best possible quality there are many services that can help. Southtree is one professional service that specializes in bringing your photographs back to life. Whether they are slides, prints or negatives of any size, Southtree uses very powerful scanners to create pixel-perfect images. What was once an old blurred photograph will become a high-definition picture. Once the whole digitizing process is over, Southtree sends you back your photographs along with a DVD containing all of your special memories.