My sister Bobbi, and me with my Mom and twin sister Vickie, 1959?

One of the first projects I took on was the the multiple boxes of family photos that were literally baking in the garage. I was concerned that the Arizona sun would fry them inside the boxes. The amount was overwhelming. Let me help you get started!

Who will archive your photos?

  • YOU. If you have a scanner and you want to do it yourself, just know it is tedious and unsatisfying. I found the feeder on my scanner had a hard time with some of the older, more brittle photos, so it became a long process of lifting and lowering the cover.
  • Personal App. I also used Photomyne, to click-scan photos on my desk, so I didn’t risk the possibility of damaging old photos. It was less tedious than hand scanning, but still very slow.
  • Scanning Service. I researched many scanning services and selected Scan Cafe. I found it to be the least expensive and their customer service is fabulous! You request a “ship kit” which you receive within 48 hours. You pack up your photos and send them off in the ship kit. Your photos go to their lab in Bangalore, India. Don’t panic! There is an option stateside in Indiana. It is faster, but the cost is much higher. When you calculate the cost difference, you may choose the overseas option too. I have shipped three boxes of photos to India without a problem. Their promotional offers frequently make each box around $155, plus nominal shipping fees. I was willing to pay and wait instead of doing it myself.

At either lab, Scan Cafe technicians hand feed each photo individually, take up to 3 minutes per image to improve it, save it in a file, and send it back. All your photos show up magically in an Amazon Photo account and your physical photos come back in 4-8 weeks. Use your Amazon ID to access it.

Things to consider

  • Be selective. Back in the day when we had to send our photos to the drug store for development, I would dedicate an entire roll (or two) of film to every event.Many photos looked alike. When you pay to archive them digitally, $.30 per photo helps you get more selective. No future family members want to look at 48 photos of my birthday party. I learned to select the best pictures to reflect the occasion.
  • Prepare your files in advance for easy retrieval. Put each group of photos in its own plastic sandwich baggie. Each baggie represents a “file of photos.” Place a 3×5 card in the baggie with a file name written very c-l-e-a-r-l-y. So “Ed’s Birthday” doesn’t become “Ed’s bivthduy.” Then pop it in the ship kit.
  • Allow plenty of time. At the beginning of photo selection, there will be many trips down memory lane. That pace will make this a long, drawn-out process. Set a timer for 20 minutes and see how many you can sort, select, bag, and label. Then compete with yourself to see if you improve. (I found I worked faster every day.)
  • Be patient. Once you have sent your ship kit off, you can track it every step of the way. If you need it quicker, pay the higher premium to ship to the Indiana lab with a turn around time of 8-12 days.

Today, I can access all my photos by file name on the Amazon Photo app on my iPhone, computer and iPad. Every photo from my iPhone is uploaded to Amazon Photo daily and I have never been charged for storage. I have Amazon as a free photo storage service with an external hard drive as my back up plan.

Email me, or leave a comment below and tell me what photo storage process and apps have worked for you. Share your knowledge!

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